Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

A-Rod to play final game Friday against Rays

NEW YORK — Calling it a "tough day" but also a "proud" one, an at-times tearful Alex Rodriguez announced Sunday morning that he will play his final major-league game Friday at Yankee Stadium against the Rays before assuming an advisory role in which he will report directly to managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner.

A-Rod, who is stuck on 696 home runs (fourth all time) and described his last month essentially fastened to the bench as "very painful and embarrassing," will collect all of the approximately $27 million left on his 10-year contract.

Officially, the 41-year-old will be unconditionally released Friday then sign a contract to "serve as a special adviser and instructor," according to the club.

"We all want to play forever," Rodriguez said during a news conference that included the entirety of the Yankees' roster sitting in the back, as well as Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, there representing the Steinbrenner family. "Accepting the end gracefully is part of being a professional athlete."

A-Rod, who said the decision was not forced upon him by Hal Steinbrenner — though he occasionally provided answers that suggested he felt compelled to accept the owner's offer — said he will return "home" to Miami after Friday and begin his "duties" as an adviser and instructor next spring training. The arrangement runs through Dec. 31, 2017.

"Alex has already proven to be a willing and effective mentor to many players who have come through our clubhouse, and I am confident that this next phase of his baseball life will bring out the best in Alex and the next generation of Yankees," Steinbrenner said in a statement.

Rodriguez said he finalized things with Steinbrenner on Wednesday when the owner was in town. According to Newsday, Steinbrenner also met at length with manager Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman on Tuesday and Wednesday, meetings in which, presumably, at least some of Sunday's news was discussed.

Most of Steinbrenner's discussions with A-Rod took place Tuesday over the phone, then in person Wednesday.

A-Rod said "I'm not going to share" what occurred in his conversations with Steinbrenner, only saying "I was incredibly humbled and flattered" by the role offered.

A club spokesperson, speaking for Steinbrenner on Sunday afternoon, said the owner laid out to Rodriguez the team's plan for the next two months, which included two or three more prospects being called up and, hence, likely continued bench time for A-Rod, but the owner never delivered an ultimatum.

"This is another way I can bring value to the franchise," Rodriguez said. "I'm 41 years old, I played 22 years in the major leagues. That's half my adult life. I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences, good and bad, with the young kids."

But Rodriguez, who has a .204/.252/.356 slash line in 62 games this season, with nine homers and 29 RBIs and just seven plate appearances since July 29, also hinted he felt nudged — even if ever so slightly — rather than outright choosing retirement.

He said the "last four weeks have not been fun."

"It's been awkward," he said of riding the bench. "So from that stance, I'm very happy we found this solution. Management has told me that I would get a few at-bats on Friday, so I am excited about that. For Boston? That's up to Joe. I haven't been told, but I am very excited about Friday."

Said Girardi: "If he wants to play in every game (through Friday), I'll find a way."

The Yankees start a three-game series at Fenway Park on Tuesday before hosting the Rays.

"I heard his pregame interview, and you can tell (despite) a lot of the things people said about him, the guy played with a lot of passion," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He cared a lot and obviously was a superstar player. Obviously it was a difficult situation for him, but I wish him nothing but the best."

Rays pitcher Chris Archer, who's scheduled to start Friday, said he hadn't given any thought to facing Rodriguez.

"I really haven't," he said. "I saw the retirement announcement (Sunday), but I haven't really given much thought into anything that's going to happen on Friday."

Rodriguez finishes his career — assuming he doesn't find work with another team — with clear Hall of Fame-caliber statistics: a .295 average, .380 on-base percentage and .550 slugging percentage, 3,114 hits, 2,084 RBIs and 2,021 runs scored, along with three AL MVP awards.

But his legacy is complicated. Judged solely on numbers, he is among the all-time greats. But, obviously, his career has been as much about things that have occurred off the field as on it, led by his association with PEDs and a seasonlong suspension in 2014.

"That's not for me to say," he said of how he wished to be remembered. "I do want to be remembered as someone who's madly in love with baseball. Hopefully I'll be remembered as someone who tripped and fell a lot but kept getting up."

Comments
Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There were a lot of reasons the Rays didn’t start the process of trading some of their bigger-name, higher-paid players at last week’s winter meetings.Most obvious was them not finding the just-right deal to move closer Alex Colome...
Published: 12/16/17
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Published: 12/14/17
Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

UPDATE, 4:02: It doesn't sound like the Rays and Cardinals will be making a deal today, Derrick Goold writing for the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Cardinals execs "leave the Walt Disney Dolphin resort with good feel for what Tampa Bay would be willin...
Published: 12/14/17
Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

LAKE BUENA VISTA — LHP Jonny Venters got as far as Triple A in September. Now the former All-Star is positioned to make it all the way back to the majors for the first time since 2012, re-signing with the Rays and headlining Thursday’s announcement o...
Published: 12/14/17
Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Inspiring veteran LHP Jonny Venters and intriguing prospect 1B/OF Joe McCarthy are among 13 players invited to major-league spring training camp with the Rays.Others coming as a result of signing minor-league contracts with invites are: RHP R.J. Alan...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

The Rays lost RHP Burch Smith in Thursday's Rule 5 draft but were happy to see him get an opportunity in Kansas City.They also were pleased to hang on to C Nick Ciuffo, who was left exposed but not selected.Smith, 27, was acquired from the Padres as ...
Published: 12/14/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 11:09: RHP Steve Cishek, who was a very effective addition to the Rays pen last season, has reunited with pitching coach Jim Hickey, agreeing to a deal with the Cubs.UPDATE, 10:40: Like most teams, Rays officials are heading out of the meetin...
Published: 12/14/17
Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

As part of its deal to buy a massive package of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney will acquire Fox Sports Regional Networks, which control the local cable rights to a slew of professional teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning.Assu...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Published: 12/13/17

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Published: 12/13/17