Same pinstripes, new role for 'grateful' A-Rod

Former Yankee ready to guide team's next generation as special guest instructor

February 21st, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. -- When needs a moment to clear his mind, he'll sometimes reach for one of his old game-model bats, now stashed near his office desk. Those indoor swings are enough for the three-time American League Most Valuable Player, who says that he is retired and has "zero" urge to play again.

Rodriguez arrived in Yankees camp on Tuesday, embracing his new role as a special guest instructor. Just six months after stepping into the box for what he promises was his final Major League at-bat, Rodriguez's new assignment will be to help guide the team's next generation of players.

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"I'm really grateful," Rodriguez said. "If it wasn't for Hal Steinbrenner believing in me and giving me one more chance to get my life back in order, I wouldn't be here today. Because of him and the opportunity, I'm in a really good place with my daughters, with my family. I get to spend time with my mother, and I get to be part of the greatest organization in the world."

Rodriguez was released by the Yankees after playing his last game on Aug. 12, ending his year batting .200 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs in 65 games. Just four homers shy of 700, Rodriguez said he received offers from "a few" clubs to continue playing, though he declined to name the interested teams.

"I thought about it for a minute," Rodriguez said. "I flew the whole family home after that Friday night. I thought about it a little bit that weekend. I was fortunate enough to have a few offers, and I called them back and just said, 'No, thank you.' I was grateful and appreciative for the opportunity, but again, the pinstripes mean so much to me."

Rodriguez plans to make two visits to Yankees camp this spring, spending three days on the diamond this week before returning next month to dabble with the YES Network. He is looking forward to an opportunity to field questions while taking some of the team's young players to a lengthy dinner.

"I'm in a unique position from all the things I've done in this game, both good and bad," Rodriguez said. "I learned my biggest lessons with some of my mistakes, and they were big ones. ... There's so much that is expected here in New York, and it's so difficult to play in New York. As staff and mentors, that's the best thing we can do is to get them ready for what's expected. Because it is a handful."

Wearing his No. 13 jersey and wearing no glove, Rodriguez roamed the main diamond during batting practice on Tuesday, crossing his arms as he observed infield drills and chatted with familiar faces. Rodriguez said that he was trying to emulate how Lou Piniella used to walk around all those springs ago with the Mariners.

"You just kind of reminisce a little bit," Rodriguez said. "These kids have so much potential, and there's so much upside. You just want to listen and watch and pay attention to them. It's pretty cool to be out there."