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Bud Selig: Dealing with A-Rod's return up to Yankees

Alex Rodriguez walks off the field back to

Alex Rodriguez walks off the field back to the dugout after he grounded out in the top of the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers during Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on Oct. 18, 2012 in Detroit. Credit: Getty Images / Jonathan Daniel

With Alex Rodriguez's 162-game suspension ending in a matter of days, Bud Selig seemed fine Tuesday with punting that subject all the way to next season, when this commissioner will be enjoying his retirement.

In other words, A-Rod isn't his problem anymore.

When asked if Rodriguez would have a clean slate in 2015, at first Selig didn't mention his nemesis by name -- only generally lumping him in with the other Biogenesis offenders who have been reinstated.

"They do in my eyes,'' Selig said at Yankee Stadium. "I've said that to a lot of players. Listen, we're a social institution. A guy does something, he gets disciplined, he comes back. We shouldn't keep penalizing him.

"Whatever happens between Alex and the Yankees will happen. It's up to them now.''

Hal Steinbrenner said last month that he expects Rodriguez back with the Yankees next season, and A-Rod still is due another $61 million through 2017. Rodriguez also is only six home runs away from reaching 660, a milestone that would pay him an additional $6 million.

That's a significant drag on the Yankees' payroll and aging roster (Rodriguez turns 40 next July). But Selig refused to comment on how A-Rod might impact MLB as a whole after being painted as the biggest villain in the Biogenesis scandal.

"The game transcends everything. I learned that long ago,'' Selig said. "I don't worry about things like that. Alex is working out, I guess, while coming back, and that's something for him and the Yankees to determine.''

Rodriguez reportedly has been training both at UCLA and Miami during his suspension, but his offseason plans are unclear. Going on Steinbrenner's comments, the assumption is that A-Rod will be back in Tampa for the start of spring training next February, if not sooner.

"That's what he's planning for,'' Steinbrenner said last month. "And that's what we're planning for.''

By then, Selig already will have stepped aside for his successor, Rob Manfred, who was voted in as the next commissioner during the owners' meetings last month. Manfred, in his previous role as MLB's chief operating officer, took the lead in prosecuting Rodriguez during the Biogenesis investigation, as well as in A-Rod's subsequent appeal.

When asked to offer his thoughts on Rodriguez coming back, Selig chose not to elaborate.

"I can't,'' Selig said, "only because he's entitled to come back next year and that's a situation between him and the New York Yankees. Major League Baseball? We've done all we can and should do, and so the rest is up to Alex and the Yankees.''

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