Embattled Rodriguez Gets Reality Check After Yankees Hand $52 Million To Headley

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Alex Rodriguez is going to have to adjust his expectations.

It seems A-Rod was convinced he still had a chance to be the Yankees’ everyday third baseman before New York slammed the door on that possibility, re-signing Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million contract on Monday.

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“In his mind, he’s still the third baseman,” a source close to the embattled slugger told the New York Daily News. “That was before (Headley’s return), anyway.”

Rodriguez — seven months shy of his 40th birthday — hasn’t played a full season since 2007. Now the Yankees have to figure out where A-Rod, with his two surgically repaired hips, fits on the roster after serving a season-long ban for his role in baseball’s Biogenesis scandal.

He could serve mainly as designated hitter and be an expensive backup infielder, spelling Headley at third or perhaps even Mark Teixeira at first base. A-Rod is owed $61 million through 2017, not including bonuses for ascending the all-time home runs list. He’s six long balls behind Willie Mays (660).

“He’s said to me, ‘people are going to be surprised,’ meaning he’s convinced he still has game,” the Daily News’ source said.

The Yankees made it clear in their public comments that Rodriguez would have to prove he can still play the position. General manager Brian Cashman said in November that any third baseman acquired during the offseason would be the team’s starter — end of story.

But the Daily News’ source said because of “what he was being told by the Yankees, Alex believed he would get the chance to play third base.”

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“It’s always been about his head, so it’s hard to say where his head will be, especially now if he thinks the Yankees don’t believe in him,” the person said. “From what he’s told me, they’ve said everything they should say to him. But that doesn’t mean they believe in him.”

Rodriguez hit .244 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs after returning from hip surgery in 2013. He eventually accepted a suspension that cost him the entire 2014 season after a long, testy and litigious appeal process.

His tenure with the Yankees has been marked by missteps, including an admission in 2009 that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his three-year stint with the Texas Rangers.

The Yankees landed Headley from San Diego ahead of last season’s trading deadline. The 30-year-old hit .262 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 58 games with New York.

“I played against (A-Rod) earlier in my career and said hello to him, and he said hello to me,” Headley said during a conference call on Monday. “I’m looking forward to the chance of playing with Alex, to be honest. He’s a tremendous player, and I don’t see there being any friction, especially coming from my side.”

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