Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Unusual medical procedure has Yankees' Alex Rodriguez feeling healthy, confident

TAMPA — Alex Rodriguez said it all started with a simple dinner with Lakers star Kobe Bryant this offseason.

Rodriguez, 36, was coming off the worst year of his career, with the three-time American League MVP hobbled by knee, shoulder and finger injuries. Bryant was "adamant" in suggesting a plasma-rich platelet procedure by Dr. Peter Wehling in Germany, telling Rodriguez the series of injections made him feel "like a 27-year-old" again after considering retirement due to knee issues.

Rodriguez, initially hesitant but pushed by Bryant, flew to Germany in December for the therapy on his right knee and left shoulder. He said he feels 100 percent heading into this year.

"If I can play as well as Kobe," Rodriguez said, "we're in business."

The Yankees would merely like him to play like the Rodriguez of old. He has spent time on the disabled list in each of the past four years and played 99 games last season, finishing with 16 homers and 62 RBIs.

It snapped a record streak of 13 years with 30 homers and 100 RBIs.

"Disappointing," he said.

Rodriguez wouldn't predict his stats or how many games he'll play, other than saying "the number is not 99, that's for sure." Even as Father Time has snapped him of his invincibility, Rodriguez believes another year like 2007 (54 homers, 156 RBIs) isn't out of reach, is determined to remain a cleanup hitter and full-time third baseman, and hopes to play into his 40s.

"Anything is possible," he said.

Rodriguez said he may have gone too hard in previous offseason workouts, potentially leading to injury, which is why he's taking a "less is more" approach and doing more corrective exercises, which he feels can lengthen his career. His health dominated a 20-plus minute discussion with reporters Saturday at Steinbrenner Field, with Rodriguez joking it sounded like a "commercial" for Wehling.

Rodriguez said the procedure in Germany, which included five injections of his own blood in a five-day span, had an immediate impact. His left finger injury, an annoyance since August, was better by Christmas. And while manager Joe Girardi said he plans to use Rodriguez at DH in some games and keep a watchful eye, he expects a "big year."

Girardi said Rodriguez was on track in the first half, hitting .295 with 13 homers and 52 RBIs, before missing six weeks due to knee surgery.

"I don't know if he'll hit 45 home runs; that's just not easy to do, but I expect him to be extremely productive," Girardi said. "I don't expect any falloff."

Rodriguez expects big things from the defending AL East champions, saying they're "poised to strike" after bolstering their rotation. He said the Giants' Super Bowl victory and the recent sensation of Knicks guard Jeremy Lin has them wanting to join the party, even saying Lin could crash at his place in Manhattan.

Rodriguez smiled: "Imagine the tabloids then."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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