Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) – Alex Rodriguez might be trying to show a less combative side, as the most controversial player currently on a major league roster reported to New York Yankees spring training — three days before position players are required to report.
The 39-year-old veteran arrived at the Yankees minor league facility in the early afternoon on Monday and was later fielding grounders at third base, a position that will likely be filled by Chase Headley, who re-signed with New York in the offseason.
The three-time AL MVP also took batting practice and later spoke to the media in an informal session and said he is not currently on any illegal performance enhancing drugs.
“Right now I’m focused on making this team,” said Rodriguez. “It was a rough year. I’m looking forward to putting it behind me.”
Rodriguez was suspended for the 2014 season for his role in the Biogenesis scandal and retaliated by suing Major League Baseball and the Yankees. He has since dropped his lawsuits.
“I created a big headache for a lot of people, so I don’t blame anyone for being mad at me,” Rodriguez added.
At the time of his suspension, which was the longest in league history for PED use, and during his appeal, he denied any wrongdoing. However, last week he met with team officials and later issued a hand-written apology for his actions.
Now back, he anticipates needing time to get back into game shape and get his timing at the plate, but noted that the time off benefited him because he got a chance to train as opposed to rehab.
“Right now I’m focused on making this team,” said Rodriguez, who is 61 hits shy of the 3,000 mark for his career. “It was a rough year. I’m looking forward to putting it behind me. I’m confident that if I can stay healthy I can do some good things.”
Rodriguez has three years and $60 million remaining on his contract. In the 2013 season, he played in just 44 games due to injury and hit .244 with seven homers and 19 RBI. Since the start of the 2011 campaign, Rodriguez has just 41 homers and he hasn’t hit over .280 since 2009.