TAMPA, Fla. — Alex Rod riguez stands by his comments from Wednesday that he likely will retire when his contract runs out after the 2017 season.
But the designated hitter, who will be 42 at that point, reserves the right to change his mind.
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“That’s exactly how I felt,” he said late Thursday afternoon of his Wednesday comments. “I feel that way right now. But I do have the right in 24 months [to change my mind]. But what I said was dead accurate and I stand by it.”
As Rodriguez said earlier in the day to manager Joe Girardi: “Why is it news that a guy that’s 42 might retire?”
But as is the case with many things related to Rodriguez, it’s never that simple.
Asked Wednesday by ESPN.com if he plans to retire after his contract expires, Rod riguez said: “I won’t play after next year. I’ve really enjoyed my time. For me, it is time for me to go home and be Dad.”
Later in the day Wednesday, he seemed to soften that stance through his spokesman, indicating a wait-and-see approach.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any confusion,” Rodriguez said Thursday, a couple of hours before the Yankees played the Rays at Steinbrenner Field. “ asked me a question, I answered it. I stand by my comments.”
He continued: “Twelve months ago, we were standing here wondering if I was going to make the team. In baseball, 30 days is an eternity. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen in two years. But I have a commitment. I’m going to fulfill my contract and I have the right to make a decision then, too.”
Rodriguez enters his 22nd big-league season with 687 home runs, fourth behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on the all-time list. He’s coming off a 2015 season in which he hit a team-best 33 home runs so, naturally, there was this question: If he’s within striking distance of Bonds, will he look to keep playing after 2017?
“Those are such hypotheticals,” he said. “Last year at this time, I was working my butt off to make this team. I had a great year. I’ve worked really hard, I’m strong and healthy. I feel great. I love this team. I just want to be a contributing member and be a big bat in the middle of the lineup.”
Rodriguez said he does not have a set-in-stone plan regarding retirement.
“There is no plan,” he said. “I have a contract, I’m going to fulfill that commitment. But the only plan I have is to play baseball right now. Again, I’m 40 years old, I’ve had two hip surgeries. At my age, I’m day-to-day.”