A-Rod returns to Yankees, says ’13 will be “very special opportunity”
Alex Rodriguez made his first public appearance in a Yankees uniform since Game 4 of the 2012 American League Championship Series on Monday, rejoining his team for Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez was on hand as the club prepared to open the regular season against the Red Sox. He was absent for all of Spring Training, having mostly stayed in New York while recovering from left hip surgery.
“We’re in the very beginning, I would say stage one, in this recovery,” Rodriguez said. “The recovery is going very well. I’ve been devoting 100 percent of my time and my focus into getting back and playing and helping this team win a title.”
Rodriguez is not expected to be ready to play at the big league level until after the All-Star break. Speaking with reporters outside of the Yankees’ clubhouse, Rodriguez said that he did not know if he would take part in the traditional Opening Day player introductions.
“I haven’t checked, but I don’t need to be introduced to feel like I’m part of this team,” Rodriguez said. “I’ll tell you what, when I get introduced, I want to be on the field and not look back.”
Rodriguez confirmed that he has spoken with investigators from the Major League Baseball Players Association, but declined to comment further on his involvement with Major League Baseball’s ongoing investigation into the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic in Coral Gables, Fla.
Records obtained by the Miami New Times indicated that Rodriguez was a client of proprietor Anthony Bosch; via a spokesperson, Rodriguez has said that the records are “not legitimate.”
“I’m not going to comment on that,” Rodriguez said. “I know you’ve got to ask that question. We put out a statement and we definitely stand by that.”
Rodriguez said that he is not concerned about being hit with a possible suspension by MLB, and also declined to address reports that the Yankees had looked into ways to void his contract following the Biogenesis story. Rodriguez has five years and $114 million remaining on his deal with New York.
“Again, I don’t want to look into that,” Rodriguez said. “I want to really focus on this great Opening Day and the great game of baseball, and the great season that the Yankees are hopefully going to have.”
Rodriguez said that “hindsight is 20/20″ about the possibility that he could have had his left hip checked sooner, and said that he expects that he will be able to return as a productive player at the big league level when his rehab is complete.
“I think it can be very high,” Rodriguez said. “When I found out after the season was over about the big tear in my left hip, it was a bit of a relief to realize and understand what happened at the end of last year. I was able to go in and fix it and rehab. I think once I’m mended and back to being 100 percent there’s no reason why I can’t play at a very high level.”
He said that it was difficult to stay in New York this spring, which Dr. Bryan Kelly and the Yankees agreed was the best course of action.
“Missing Spring Training obviously [stinks],” Rodriguez said. “It’s definitely a tough pill to swallow. I love the game of baseball and being around my teammates. I’m just glad I’m here on Opening Day to give them support because it’s going to be a special year.”
Rodriguez added that he believes many preseason prognosticators are forecasting incorrectly when it comes to the Yankees.
“I think this year is a very special opportunity. This is my 10th year here in New York and it’s the first time we’re being predicted to finish in last place,” Rodriguez said.
“That’s exciting. It’s a year of opportunity for our team, a year of opportunity for me. I love when people say you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you’re old. I find it a great challenge.”