Forget the 3-for-25 postseason, the benchings, the in-game flirting, the contract curse and all the drama. Alex Rodriguez will be the starting third baseman for the New York Yankees once again in 2013.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi pledged his allegiance to the embattled slugger during his end-of-the-year press conference on Wednesday, saying the job belongs to Rodriguez if he is healthy when spring training begins.
“I expect Alex to be our everyday third baseman,” Girardi said via ESPN New York. “What is he going to have to show me? That he is healthy and ready to go.
“That’s the bottom line — that he has no concerns and we have no concerns about putting him out there every day.”
Girardi was asked about Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s comments over the weekend that A-Rod is no longer “a superstar.”
“I think there were some comments that maybe Alex is not an MVP candidate. He hasn’t been for the last couple of years,” Girardi said via the New York Daily News. “But as I said, you’ve seen players who’ve made adjustments who’ve gone back to being extremely productive. There was talk about Derek (Jeter). There was talk about Ichiro (Suzuki), that he wasn’t the same player, and look how good he was for us, what he did over that two months span and in the playoffs.
“So, can Alex be a very good player again? Absolutely. I don’t have any question in my mind. Because I think the desire is there.”
Rodriguez was one of several marquee players to go ice cold when the calendar turned to October and earned a seat on the bench for the final two games of Detroit’s ALCS sweep. The decision to bench New York’s highest-paid player fueled speculation that the Yankees may try to trade Rodriguez to anyone willing to take a chunk of his remaining $114 million off their books. After the series, Rodriguez expressed his desire to stay put.
“My focus is to stay here. Let’s make that very, very clear,” he said (via ESPN New York). “I will be back and I have a lot to prove and I will come back on a mission.”
Girardi said Wednesday that one of the items on his “to-do list” is a conversation with Rodriguez over his struggles and resulting treatment in the ALCS.
The team has a number of big decisions to make this offseason including whether to re-sign aging veterans Ichiro Suzuki, Hiroki Kuroda, Nick Swisher, Andy Pettitte and Raul Ibanez. The Yankees have a $15 million option on all-star second baseman Robinson Cano, who went 3 for 40 in the playoffs.