NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez is set to play his final game with the Yankees, and there’s no way to predict how it will shake out. Will he be booed? Will he be cheered? Will he make an impact?
The Yankees announced Sunday that the 41-year-old slugger will be released from his player contract following Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankees Stadium. The three-time American League MVP will then assume a role as a special adviser and instructor with the team. A-Rod’s contract as a special adviser will run through Dec. 31, 2017.
Rodriguez will be paid his entire 2017 player salary, $20 million, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Sunday.
“It’s kind of a sad day, but at the same time it’s a happy day,” Rodriguez said earlier this week of his final appearance in pinstripes. “It’s gonna be strange and surreal. I’m so grateful for the fans of New York that have been so good to me through thick and thin.”
Exclusively a designated hitter over the last two seasons, Rodriguez had asked to play his normal position, third base, for the last game, but manager Joe Girardi denied the request.
“We thought about it, but he hasn’t done any work,” Girardi said before Thursday night’s 4-2 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park, which moved New York within 3 1/2 games of Boston for the second AL wild card spot. “It’s not that I wouldn’t like to see it, but we’re in a part of the season where we are trying to win. We’re still in this and I just felt that the situation hasn’t presented itself.”
Rodriguez batted cleanup as the DH on Thursday and was lustily booed by Red Sox fans when he came to the plate in the second inning. He finished 0-for-4, but did drive in an insurance run with a soft grounder in the eighth inning.
He will be honored Friday with a pre-game ceremony at the stadium, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
Rodriguez, who sits four home runs shy of 700 for his career, has generated no shortage of headlines over the years — from his admitted steroid use to his suspension for the entire 2014 season to his incredible feats.
Following a resurgent 2015 season that saw him come off his year-long ban to hit 33 homers and drive in 86 runs, this season has been one to forget, as he’s batting just .199 with nine homers and 30 RBI in 64 games.
For many Yankee fans, his departure will be bittersweet.
“He’s an icon,” fan Ciaran Staunton told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes. “It’s a shame. We’ve had highs and lows with him, but in general, he’s been great for New York.”
“I love him and I hate him,” Joe Banome said.
“I know there’s a lot of controversy around him, but I’m gonna be upset to see him go,” fan Andrew Tedeschi said.
“The drama’s gone,” another man told 1010 WINS’ John Montone. “Finally.”
“He’s a great player, lot of home runs, but PED use is always going to taint him,” fan Chauncey Clark said
“Everybody makes mistakes in life, so we can’t judge him,” fan Nelson Pimentel said.
In making his announcement last weekend, Rodriguez admitted he’s “been to hell and back, and made every mistake in the book.”
While this is the end of his playing career in the Bronx, Rodriguez has never said he’s retiring from the field for good, Grymes reported.
Friday’s game has been pushed back about a half hour to accommodate the special ceremony. The first pitch is now set for 7:35 p.m.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)