Alex Rodriguez apologizes to Yankees
39-year-old returning from lengthy suspension
Alex Rodriguez met with top New York Yankees officials on Tuesday and apologized to the team as he prepares to report to spring training following his season-long suspension for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labour contract.
A joint statement from the Yankees and Rodriguez said the 39-year-old met at Yankee Stadium with owner Hal Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman and assistant general manager Jean Afterman.
Rodriguez was accompanied by lawyer Jim Sharp.
"Alex initiated the meeting and apologized to the organization for his actions over the past several years," the statement said. "There was an honest and frank discussion on all of the issues. As far as the Yankees are concerned, the next step is to play baseball in spring training."
A person familiar with the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity because the release of additional details was not authorized, said the meeting lasted about 90 minutes.
The person said the Yankees said they accepted the apology but maintained that doesn't mean the team has forgotten about Rodriguez's actions over recent years. Team officials also said Rodriguez has to make up many things to many people.
New York opens spring training on Feb. 20 at Tampa, Florida, and Rodriguez is due to report with position players and start workouts on Feb. 26. Yankees officials told him he will be treated like any other player at spring training.
The Yankees also said their preference was that Rodriguez meet with media before the team opens spring training.
In addition, New York told Rodriguez the team does not feel obligated to give him any of up to $30 million potentially due for historic achievements, part of a marketing deal reached at the time of his $275 million, 10-year contract in December 2007. The marketing agreement calls for $6 million payments for up to five milestone accomplishments designated by the Yankees. Each payment is due within 15 days of designation and is in exchange for rights such as using Rodriguez's name and image in selling licensed goods.
At the time of the marketing agreement, those accomplishments were contemplated to be tying the home run totals of Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762), and breaking Bonds' major league record. Rodriguez has 654 home runs.
A failure to declare a milestone and make a payment likely would trigger a grievance on Rodriguez's behalf by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
A three-time AL MVP who turns 40 in July, Rodriguez faces an uncertain future with the Yankees, who have said they plan to shift him from third base to designated hitter. He has not played a full season since 2007 because of leg injuries, operations on both hips and the suspension. Still, he is owed $61 million for the final three seasons of his contract.