Alex Rodriguez said dealing with his 211-game suspension stemming from baseball's Biogenesis drug investigation has been a "big burden" and adds he's ready to face it "head on" when the arbitration hearing on his grievance begins Monday.
The New York Yankees third baseman didn't expect to play this weekend during the team's season-ending series at Houston because of soreness in his legs.
He said he's excited to get the hearing started before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz and he plans to attend every day. Horowitz has set aside all five business days next week for sessions.
"I'm fighting for my life and my whole legacy," Rodriguez said. "Yeah, I should be there."
Rodriguez was suspended by MLB on Aug. 5, the day he returned from January hip surgery and a quadriceps injury sustained during a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
He dodged the question when asked whether he would consider it a victory if his suspension were shortened or would he would be satisfied only if it were overturned completely.
"I'm not going to get into that," he said. "I told you guys about a month-and-a-half ago that I'm not going to talk about it during the season. I'm kind of just giving you some colour on it, but I'm not going to get into my expectations and whatnot."
He said he will discuss the case in detail at some unspecified point.
"Obviously this is going to be a grueling process all the way through," he said. "You'll hear the full story when the time is right for me, and that time is not just now."
The 38-year-old is hitting .244 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in 44 games this season and is six homers shy of tying Willie Mays' 660 for fourth place on the career list, behind only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).
Rodriguez is owed $86 million in salaries by the Yankees: $25 million next year, $21 million in 2015 and $20 million in each of the final two seasons of his $275 million, 10-year deal. He can also earn five $6 million bonuses contemplated to be tying the home run marks of Mays, Ruth, Aaron and Bonds, and breaking Bonds' record.
How much money the Yankees save during any suspension could help determine whether they re-sign second baseman Robinson Cano or try to sign free agents such as catcher Brian McCann.
After missing so much time because of injuries this season, Rodriguez is eager to get back in a training routine and prepare for next season. He said however long he is suspended; it will leave him on the field more than he has been recently because of his health problems.
"It's not going to be longer no matter how you draw it up," he said. "It's not going to be longer than (when) I was out almost an entire year with no training. Whatever it is I think it should be hopefully less than that."
He believes he can still be a productive member of this team and can't wait for next season.
"I'm looking forward to coming back in great shape and being a big contributor," he said.