Brian Cashman got a text message as he was driving up to Boston last night. It was Alex Rodriguez, asking whether he was allowed to reach out to various personnel about his winter workout problem. Cashman gave him the green light.
In other words, as the Yankees are saying goodbye to beloved shortstop, they’re taking steps toward bringing back their controversial third baseman.
“One thing about Alex, he’s always been a hard worker,” Cashman said. “That’s nothing you ever have to worry about with Alex. … He’s doing two-a-days right now. Last I remember, he said he was out at UCLA. Between that and his workouts in Miami, he’s (also) going to plan on working with our staff in Tampa at some point this winter. He looks forward to reintroducing himself in a positive way for us going forward.”
Cashman said he wasn’t sure when Rodriguez’s season-long suspension would officially come an end, but essentially it ends on Sunday when the Yankees play their final game. Rodriguez is signed through 2017, he’ll be eligible to play again next year, and right now there’s no indication that the Yankees are going to release him or find a way out of his contract. This has always been a fairly unpredictable situation, but right now, indications are that Rodriguez will be back next year.
“The (suspension) process went through,” Cashman said. “It wasn’t a healthy process for anybody involved, but the process had finality and now it’s about moving forward. Simple as that. Alex has not not been talked to throughout this season. He’s stayed in touch with various members of the coaching staff, front office staff throughout the year. I talked to him earlier in the season regarding insurance stuff, and more recently, and then Alex texted me about a strategy going into the winter. Can he reach out to certain people so he can start mapping out his winter? And I said absolutely.”
Cashman defined his conversations with Rodriguez as being “very professional.”
“When you deal with Alex on baseball, it’s always good,” he said.
Most recently, Cashman said, the conversations centered on whether Rodriguez would be interested in playing in the Dominican Winter League. Cashman said he wasn’t requesting that Rodriguez play winter ball, but he needed to find out whether Rodriguez wanted to get those games under his belt because doing so would likely require several phone calls about the team’s insurance policy. Ultimately, it didn’t matter, because Rodriguez said he doesn’t want to play this winter.
“There (are) a lot of different avenues,” Cashman said. “If this was an avenue that was one avenue to take and of interest, I needed to do some work, and that was it. This wasn’t a directive that this was what I want you to do. It was (finding out) if this was something you’re interested in doing, and that was that.”
Cashman said that Rodriguez has already passed an insurance physical, which declared him healthy enough to go through full workouts. Yankees strength coach Matt Krause will meet with Rodriguez soon further evaluate him.
“Passing a physical and being ready for Major League Baseball are completely different,” Cashman said. “But he passed a physical. He’s a go, physically fit to compete. Now it’s about getting him back into shape so he’s a quality player.”
What kind of player he’ll be is anyone’s guess. Cashman said he hasn’t even asked whether Rodriguez is working out at third base, and he hasn’t had any conversations about possibly having him work at first base. It’s early in the process of getting a player back from a one-year hiatus. There’s a lot to be done between now and spring training, but the process has clearly begun.
“Winter ball is not one of the avenues that we’re focusing on,” Cashman said. “It’s going to be on his continued workouts, which have always been high-end, and obviously working with some of our field staff in the southern office in Tampa, and going from there and preparing him from a hitting standpoint, fielding standpoint. We’ll deal with it further as we move forward, but that’s where we’re at right now.”
Associated Press photos