NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez is going to call it quits after his contract ends.
The New York Yankees slugger told ESPN’s Andrew Marchand that he will retire following the 2017 season – the last year of his 10-year, $275 million contract.
“I won’t play after next year,” Rodriguez told ESPN. “I’ve really enjoyed my time. For me, it is time for me to go home and be Dad.”
A-Rod, who will turn 41 on July 27, had a renaissance last year after being suspended for the entire 2014 season for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez hit 33 home runs and drove in 86 runs in 151 games in 2015.
“I get treated better today than before my screw-ups,” Rodriguez told ESPN. “That is hard to believe and it is hard to comprehend sometimes, but I’m grateful for it.”
Rodriguez doesn’t believe he will get the same retirement tours former teammates Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter received.
“I’m certainly going to enjoy, but hopefully it is just low key,” he said. “I haven’t thought that far ahead, to be honest with you.”
Rodriguez came to the Yankees in 2004 in a trade that rocked the baseball world when New York sent Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers.
Despite winning two MVPs and a World Series with the Yanks, the mercurial slugger has never been viewed as a fan favorite, seemingly playing second fiddle to Jeter. Rodriguez said despite the challenges he’s dealt with during his career, he’s still had “fun.”
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Rodriguez told ESPN. “It has been very challenging at times, but it has been an incredible learning experience. I would say that the two years that I’ve probably enjoyed the most was my first when I was 19 and won the batting title with [Ken] Griffey and last year. The contrast of those two, at 40 and 18 or 19. It is hard to believe.”
“He’s going to be 42 at the end of his contract. You don’t see players playing really past that age. I’m not surprised,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Wednesday night’s exhibition game against Washington
But Girardi said this may not be Rodriguez’s final decision.
“I think he’s allowed to change his mind,” the manager said. “With his love of playing the game and competing, if he had two really good years, I wouldn’t be surprised if he changed his mind.”
“I don’t think it should be too big of a surprise. He’s almost 50 years old, right?” Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner said. “The numbers obviously speak for themselves. He’s been a lot of fun to be around the last year, year-and-a-half since he came back.”
Girardi would not predict whether Rodriguez would be a Hall of Famer.
“That’s to be judged because of what he’s been through,” Girardi said. “Obviously, everyone that has been found guilty of the PED, they (haven’t) been allowed in the Hall of Fame yet.”
Girardi thinks there will be a place for Rodriguez in baseball once his playing days are over. Girardi said “he’d be great” as a coach.
“Sometimes, guys get painted a certain way in the media, and it’s kind of hard to shake that,” Gardner said. “But he’s always been great to me. He’s always been a great teammate. He’s always welcomed me with open arms and more than willing to talk about anything, whether it be baseball related, business related, on the field, off the field, or anywhere in between. He’s always been willing to give me his time. I’ll always be grateful for that.”
CBS2’s Otis Livingston reported Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he had no reaction to the announcement, other than he hopes A-Rod finishes his career strong with one or two championships.
Last season, the Yanks tried to block Rodriguez from receiving contract escalators after passing Willie Mays on the all-time home run list. The two came to a compromise as the Yankees donated the money to charity.
Over 21 seasons, A-Rod has tallied 687 home runs and 3,070 hits with a .297 average. Rodriguez needs 28 home runs to surpass Babe Ruth for third on the all-time home run list and 76 to become the home run king over Barry Bonds.
Despite the gaudy numbers, it’s unlikely he will ever reach the Hall of Fame due to his PED use.
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