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A-Rod meets with and apologizes to Yankees

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez met with several high-ranking Yankees officials, including managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, at which time he issued an apology to the club.

The meeting was disclosed in a joint statement released by the Yankees on behalf of both the club and Rodriguez. According to the release, team president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman and assistant GM Jean Afterman also attended the meeting, as well as Jim Sharp, an attorney for Rodriguez.

"Today we held a meeting at Yankee Stadium between Hal Steinbrenner, Randy Levine, Brian Cashman, Jean Afterman, Alex Rodriguez and Jim Sharp," the statement read. "Alex initiated the meeting and apologized to the organization for his actions over the past several years.

"There was an honest and frank discussion on all of the issues. As far as the Yankees are concerned, the next step is to play baseball in Spring Training."

Rodriguez, 39, was suspended for the entire 2014 season following Major League Baseball's investigation into the now-shuttered Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in South Florida, which uncovered evidence that Rodriguez had obtained illegal performance-enhancing substances and then sought to hinder the league's investigation.

As he prepares to mend fences and put his uniform back on this spring, Rodriguez has also met with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, who informed Rodriguez that he is considered to be in good standing with the league because his punishment has been served.

Though Tuesday marked Rodriguez's first in-person meeting with the group of Yankees executives, others in the organization have maintained contact with him. He has communicated with manager Joe Girardi frequently via phone and text, and the Yankees dispatched strength and conditioning coach Matt Krause to Miami so he could evaluate Rodriguez's progress on multiple occasions this winter.

Yankees pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 20, with position players due in camp on Feb. 25. It is possible that Rodriguez will hold a news conference at the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex to address the questions revolving around his return, though details have not been finalized.

The Yankees plan to give Rodriguez the majority of his at-bats as a designated hitter and also plan to evaluate him at third base, where he could serve as a backup to Chase Headley, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal this winter. Cashman said the best-case scenario is that Rodriguez proves he is still a middle-of-the-order bat who can contribute defensively.

"I think he will play hard and he will put his nose to the grindstone, because he's always done that," Cashman said on WFAN. "That's not asking much, coming from him. His work ethic has [never been in question]. We all know he loves the game of baseball, so that's never been an issue either."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
Read More: New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez