NEW YORK (WFAN) — The biggest sideshow in sports is a few weeks away from turning Yankees spring training upside-down.
Brian Cashman is ready for the Alex Rodriguez experience.
Speaking to WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Friday, the Yankees’ general manager said he plans to meet with A-Rod and get a feeling for where his head is at prior to workouts starting in Florida. Cashman said if Rodriguez wants to speak to the media the club will agree to “whatever he feels is in his best interest. He’s been reintroduced as an active member of our club.”
Cashman has made it clear Rodriguez’s days as an everyday player are over, but he hopes the 39-year-old disgraced slugger can still provide manager Joe Girardi some options during the 2015 season. In other words, the Yankees hope Rodriguez can still be a productive middle-of-the-lineup bat.
“We’re going to expect the worst and hope for the best,” Cashman said. “It would be nice to know I can give Chase (Headley) a rest day here and there and have Alex as a threat on a consistent basis. This team will have a lot more flexibility for our manager. When given certain weapons, Joe knows how to play it out well.”
Cashman said his understanding is Rodriguez, who was suspended the entire 2014 season due to violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy, is healthy and should be as in shape as a player of his age can be once the season starts. However, the GM added he has no idea what kind of reception A-Rod will get from his teammates and the fans.
“I think he will play hard and put his nose to the grindstone,” Cashman said. “His work ethic is not questionable. He loves the game of baseball. After that, I can’t predict how meetings take place or fences get mended.”
Aside from the A-Rod distraction, the Yankees will have to deal with a lot of roster turnover and some serious question marks in their pitching rotation. Cashman said he’s optimistic he will get representative seasons out of his projected top three starters.
On right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who struggled with an elbow injury during last season’s second half, Cashman said, “There is risk no matter what. Tanaka had a great winter. He finished the season as a healthy player. He went back to his normal throwing routine, rest routine. We hope he can be Tanaka.”
Then there is Michael Pineda, who has been long on ability but short on long-term health. The 26-year-old right-hander missed considerable time last season due to back and shoulder injuries.
“We believe we are going to have a quality arm every five days,” Cashman said.
The biggest wild card could be former ace CC Sabathia, whose 2014 season was derailed early on by a knee injury.
“His pitch-ability will be there,” Cashman said of the veteran left-hander. “If we can get him healthy and keep him healthy I think he will be a positive force in the rotation.”
With the acquisition of hard-throwing Nathan Eovaldi, the Yankees continued their attempt to get younger. Cashman said the 24-year-old right-hander has serious upside.
“He’s not a finished product, but, again, we have someone with (a lot of) ability and you connect him with a guy like (pitching coach) Larry (Rothschild) and you feel like you can dream a little more,” Cashman said.
Cashman also spoke to Francesa about the Yankees’ infield, which is a major question mark heading into spring training. To hear his complete interview, please click on the audio link below.