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SportsBaseballYankees

Dellin Betances: Yankees will welcome A-Rod 'with open arms'

Dellin Betances of the Yankees pitches in the

Dellin Betances of the Yankees pitches in the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, July 20, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The questions surrounding Alex Rodriguez this spring are endless. Among the most asked is how he'll be received in the Yankees' clubhouse after serving a one-season suspension for his involvement with PEDs and Biogenesis.

Dellin Betances, for one, says it won't be an issue.

"We welcome him with open arms,'' Betances said Tuesday night in Manhattan before he was to be honored at the 35th annual Thurman Munson awards dinner to benefit AHRC New York City Foundation. "We just want everyone to contribute the way they can contribute to help us get back to the playoffs. That's the key for us this year.''

Betances' feelings on A-Rod are not surprising. For all of Rodriguez's public and private missteps in recent years, he is, by and large, considered a good teammate and a mentor, especially by young Hispanic players.

"He's a great guy and I'm looking forward to playing with him,'' Betances said.

How much A-Rod plays this season is very much in question, which is not the case with Betances. The 26-year-old's precise role, however, is.

With the departure of David Robertson to the White Sox -- "It was a bit surprising,'' Betances said -- the closer's job is open. All indications point to it going to either Betances, one of the AL's most dominant relievers last season, or lefthander Andrew Miller, signed to a four-year, $36-million deal.

"I haven't put too much mind into [closing],'' said Betances, who was 5-0 with a 1.40 ERA in 70 appearances, striking out 135 in 90 innings. "There's people that always mention it. For me, I'm just going to try and do the same thing. Whether it's the seventh, eighth or ninth, I'm just going to try and take the same approach I did last year and not make too big a deal if I do get that job.''

Last summer, the 6-8 Betances credited part of his breakout season to the three weeks he spent the previous January in Bonao in the Dominican Republic at Fausto "Chiqui'' Mejia's baseball academy. Mejia and pitcher Joel Peralta, now a Dodger, helped Betances refine his curveball, his best pitch last season, and establish a plan of attack for every hitter.

"I'm looking forward to this upcoming season,'' said Betances, who again worked with Mejia and Peralta in Bonao this winter. "I put in a lot of work this offseason to be ready.''

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