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Brian Cashman says A-Rod won't be third baseman, will have to earn spot at DH

Yankees' Alex Rodriguez reads a statement to the

Yankees' Alex Rodriguez reads a statement to the media along side Yankees general manager Brian Cashman after arriving at George Steinbrenner Field for spring training on Feb. 17, 2009. Photo Credit: AP

Alex Rodriguez is due another $61 million from the Yankees through 2017.

On the field, however, Brian Cashman doesn't feel like they owe him anything more. If A-Rod is going to have a role on the 2015 Yankees, he'll need to earn it in spring training.

"I don't think any reasonable human being can know what to expect from Alex at this stage of his career," Cashman said Tuesday during a phone interview. "Yeah, we have a contractual agreement. But that doesn't guarantee playing time. It doesn't guarantee anything.

"All it guarantees is he's coming to camp and he's going to compete and hopefully he can secure the everyday DH spot now. We just don't know what we're going to get. No one's ever really been through this before."

Cashman, of course, is referring to the considerable baggage A-Rod will be carrying with him to Tampa when spring training begins. He's coming off a season-long PED suspension, turns 40 in July, and is playing on two surgically repaired hips. In Cashman's mind, that made it a no-brainer to bring back Chase Headley, who Monday signed a four-year, $52-million deal.

With the addition of Headley, Cashman said the infield is set -- with Didi Gregorius at short, Martin Prado at second base and Mark Teixeira at first. Joe Girardi has raised the possibility of Rodriguez as a backup to Teixeira and Cashman suggested that maybe A-Rod could be a short-term solution if something happened to Headley.

But those are hypothetical options in mid-December. The bottom line is that Cashman can't count on A-Rod in putting this year's roster together. He remains a very expensive X-factor.

"It's better for me as GM, in the chair that I'm sitting in, to prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Cashman said. "Right now, I have a tremendous defensive infield, and I think that best serves us. In Alex's case, he hasn't swung a bat in 18 months essentially. If we can line the club up properly, this would be the best role for him and us."

Cashman hasn't spoken with Rodriguez about the team's plans, but he also sees no reason to worry about it. The two have had minimal contact, other than checking in a few times on winter regimens, and Cashman doesn't believe he needs to brief A-Rod on the situation.

"I don't feel I have to," Cashman said. "Listen, I know Alex reads everything that's said about him and everything that involves him. He's determined to be the best player he can be, and that's a credit to him.

"But if he had an interest in having a conversation about any of the discussions I've had since October, he could have called. I never heard once from Alex about any concern about where he's going to play."

Rodriguez made 27 starts at third base after returning from a second hip surgery in 2013, but then was forced to DH for the last 13 games of the 43 he played because of leg issues.

"This is reality," Cashman said. "Everybody has high expectations and hopes. But I have to deal in the reality of putting the best team that we can field out there on Opening Day and that's what we're doing. I think anybody in my position has to prepare the team to the best of your abilities and this is the safer, better way to go. No apologies."

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