A-Rod appears, but return no more certain
Veteran slugger reveals little in first interview with media since postseason
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez reappeared on Monday. He did not bring much information with him.
A-Rod is rehabilitating from left hip surgery and was last seen with the team during Game 4 of the Yankees' 2012 American League Championship Series sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.
Rodriguez said on one occasion that his recovery was "going well," and to a similar question, he replied that it was "going very well." But he declined to go into any specifics regarding a target date for his return as a player, other than saying that he planned on playing at some point this season.
"You've heard the same dates I've heard," Rodriguez said. "Right now, I can tell you things are going well. 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. 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."
Asked about what level he expected to be playing at upon his return, Rodriguez responded:
"I think it can be very high. 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."
Asked if he regretted not getting the hip checked out sooner, Rodriguez replied:
"Hindsight is always 20/20. If I would have, we would have never had that very tough ending, for sure. Live and learn."
The problem for the Yankees in this case is not only the absence of Rodriguez but the external circumstances surrounding it. He has been named as a customer of the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., by the Miami New Times. It has been alleged that a number of baseball players, including Rodriguez, have received performance-enhancing substances from the clinic. These substances have been banned by Major League Baseball.
A-Rod was asked a pointed question about MLB's probe of Biogenesis to the effect that the investigation may be targeting "big names," most prominently Rodriguez and Ryan Braun of the Brewers. If players are found to have used the banned substances in question, they would be subject to 50-game suspensions.
"I'm not going to further discuss this," Rodriguez said. "At some point, I feel that everything will be good."
This session with reporters was being held just outside the home clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, prior to Monday's Opening Day game with the Boston Red Sox. After the Biogenesis question, Rodriguez said: "Thanks," turned and went back into the clubhouse, thus unilaterally ending the media session.
Rodriguez, who is nearing age 38, is under contract with the Yankees for five more seasons, including this one. Under the terms of this contract, the Yankees owe A-Rod $114 million, $29 million of which is due this year. He was asked about the possibility that the Yankees would attempt to void his contract if the Biogenesis charges prove true.
"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."
The Yankees, of course, would like to focus on the great game of baseball as well. They have not been aided much in this task lately by their third baseman. He is, once again, unavailable due to injury, and he is simultaneously the center of controversy. Given an opportunity to address these issues on Monday, Rodriguez did not respond with answers that were informative, or for that matter, useful.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.