As the Yankees prepared to play their final series of the season, part of their past was getting ready to help with the future.
Alex Rodriguez arrived at the Yankees’ minor-league complex in Tampa, Florida, on Friday to begin tutoring the team’s prized prospects in the Instructional League.
According to The Associated Press, Rodriguez put on his old No. 13 Yankees uniform and talked with prospects Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford and Jorge Mateo, among others, before an Instructional League game against Toronto.
“It still fits,” said Rodriguez, whose last major-league game was on Aug. 12. “That’s a good thing. It feels great to be back in pinstripes.”
Rodriguez was released by the Yankees after his last game, but he has not retired. For now, he has agreed to work with the Yankees’ top prospects starting next February in a deal forged with owner Hal Steinbrenner.
Steinbrenner also had said he hoped A-Rod would help out in the Instructional League. He will do just that this weekend while the Yankees — who were eliminated from playoff contention on Thursday — finish the season at home against the Orioles.
“We owe the game,” Rodriguez said. “In many ways, it’s our responsibility and privilege to pay it forward.”
The Yankees have several promising young infielders, including Mateo and Gleyber Torres, who was acquired in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Frazier, an outfielder, was part of the haul for Andrew Miller. Rutherford, also an outfielder, was the Yankees’ first-round pick in the June draft.
“The talent jumps off the page,” Rodriguez said. “This is as much good, young talent [as] I’ve seen here in all my years here.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he thinks Rodriguez will be a good fit as an instructor.
“I think [he can help] in a lot of different areas because of his experiences,” he said. “The expectations. Playing short, playing third. Being a middle-of-the-order hitter. Hitting No. 2 earlier in his career. All the different things that he’s done. He was an outstanding defender, he was an outstanding hitter, he was an outstanding run-producer, he was an outstanding baserunner. He knew the game. Those kids should just sit around and pick his brain. That’s what they should do as much as they can. I think he can help in a lot of different areas, and he can help in some do’s and don’ts.”
Rodriguez also has been busy on social media, posting pictures of various trips around the country and the time he is spending with his two daughters.
“I’m making more round trips with all these [family] events,” he said. “It’s great to be more part of it now. They often tell me, ‘Dad, we’re glad you’re home.’ ”
Rodriguez will be on the road again soon. For the second straight year, he will work for Fox as a studio analyst during its postseason baseball coverage. Rodriguez drew rave reviews for his work in 2015.
The Yankees still owe Rodriguez $21 million for next season in the final year of his 10-year, $275-million contract.
With The Associated Press