Posted on August 12, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Alex Rodriguez is set to play in the final game of his big league career Friday night, after he and the New York Yankees reached an agreement for him to be released on Saturday but stay with the organization as an advisor, but he will do so as a designated hitter. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has denied a request from Rodriguez to start the final game of his career at third base.
“Tuesday, I came into his office,” Rodriguez explained. “He told me what the plan was and I said, ‘Well, any chance I could play third base on Friday?’ He just said no.” Rodriguez has not played the field at all this season after playing just two games there last year.
Girardi was pragmatic in his reasoning for not putting Rodriguez at third base on Friday. “We thought about it, but he hasn’t done any work,” he said. “We are still in the business of trying to win games.”
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“It would have just been fun,” Rodriguez said, perhaps trying to hide his disappointment. “Look, it wasn’t a big request. I get that we are playing games. I totally get the answer. This is my last day, I would hope that a couple of balls didn’t hit me in the mouth. It was a fun request.” Rodriguez insisted that Girardi turning him down wasn’t a big deal, adding that not playing the field will “probably saving me some embarrassment.”
Rodriguez may not be playing the field Friday night, but he should be in the lineup as the DH, as he was Thursday night when the Yankees played at Fenway Park against their old rivals the Boston Red Sox. Girardi even put Rodriguez in the cleanup spot for his Fenway farewell. He went 0 for 4 but drove in the game-winning run in the 8th inning. He was booed by Red Sox fans every time he stepped up to the plate, just as he was Wednesday night when he appeared as a pinch hitter.
“They’re passionate fans. They love their team,” Rodriguez said afterwards. “Just like in the ’80s, Celtics-Lakers was good for basketball. Red Sox-Yankees has been good for baseball, and tonight was a good thing.”
Now, all the focus shifts to his Friday night farewell. “I’m sure I’ll wake up in the morning and it will be very emotional,” Rodriguez said Thursday night. “My family, my girls get in at mid-day. [Friday] is about me thanking the fans for putting up with me for such a long time. They’ve been with me through thick and thin.”
Rodriguez insists that his focus hasn’t strayed from his final few games and that he isn’t thinking about what will happen after he’s released and whether one of the other 29 teams will take a chance on him. “I’m focusing on this is it,” Rodriguez said when asked if Friday was his last game with the Yankees or his last game, period. “I’m not looking beyond that. I value pinstripes. I value this organization. To me, this is it.”
The Yankees have pushed back the start time for Friday’s game with the Tampa Bay Rays so they can hold a pre-game ceremony honoring Rodriguez. The ceremony will start at 6:50, with first pitch scheduled for 7:35.