Yankees: A-Rod now a full-time designated hitter

NEW YORK (AP)—Alex Rodriguez faces a diminished role in his return to the New York Yankees, who have stripped him of his third-base job and plan to limit his role to full-time designated hitter, at most.

A-Rod’s days as an everyday fielder are over, general manager Brian Cashman said on Tuesday, and Chase Headley will start at third after agreeing this week to a $52 million, four-year contract.

Coming off a season-long suspension for violations of Major League Baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract, Rodriguez will have to compete with Martin Prado for time as Headley’s backup at third.

“I can’t expect Alex to be anything,” Cashman said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I’ve got to think the worst and hope for the best. Even before the suspension, he wasn’t the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side. And that was before the suspension.

“And now he’s been out of the game for a year. He’s approaching 40 years of age. And just to automatically assume, given his circumstances, that he’ll be able to plug right in, play third as an everyday guy and hold up and be productive, that would be dangerous thinking from my perspective.”

Rodriguez turns 40 in July and has not played a full season since 2007 because of leg injuries, operations on both hips, and the suspension. Cashman said A-Rod will have to prove to manager Joe Girardi he can play the field.

Cashman said he has not spoken with Rodriguez about his new role.

“I don’t need to. I’ve been very consistent with my conversations publicly from October on,” he said. “I have not heard from Alex on any of that, and I know he reads all this stuff.”

Rodriguez is owed $61 million by the Yankees in the final three seasons of his contract, and New York could use improvement at DH—its players there combined to hit .230 this year (12th in the American League) with 18 homers (11th), 63 RBIs (13th), a .290 on-base percentage (14th) and a .372 slugging percentage (12th), according to STATS.

New York anticipates Headley, a 2012 Gold Glove winner, will be joined in the infield most days by Didi Gregorius at shortstop, Prado at second, and Mark Teixeira at first.

“We believe we now have a very strong defensive infield,” Cashman said, “that will serve our pitching staff and our run prevention well.”


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Updated Dec 17, 4:51 am EST