Alex Rodriguez was careful not to close the door on the possibility of someday playing for another team after he leaves the Yankees later this week.
But one of his longest-tenured teammates did so for him after Sunday’s 3-2 victory over the Indians.
“I know he won’t, so that’s a crazy hypothetical,” CC Sabathia said when asked by Newsday a not-so-crazy hypothetical about whether he thinks Rodriguez has something left as a player if he wants to keep playing elsewhere.
Sabathia said the two did not specifically discuss that notion, but he added: “I think Al makes decisions and they’re pretty much final. He’s played a long time. He’s done that since he was 18 years old. I know he has bigger goals and bigger dreams to do different things.”
Sabathia said Rodriguez tipped him off Saturday to what was coming Sunday, and Brett Gardner, too, said he knew of the plan in advance. The other remaining member of the 2009 championship team, Mark Teixeira, said he did not.
But all of the Yankees showed up to join journalists for the news conference at which Rodriguez spoke.
The contrast to Teixeira’s retirement news conference Friday was inescapable. He got to set the terms and timing of his departure after the season. Rodriguez appears to be leaving largely against his will.
“The ultimate way to go out is to go out on your own terms and Tex is getting an opportunity to do that,” Gardner said, “and it’s sad to see that Alex isn’t.”
Said Sabathia: “It is what it is. He talked about the cards that were dealt to him, and he made the best of it, so I wish him the best.”
Teammates spoke glowingly of Rodriguez as a teammate, as well as of his body of work as a player, especially as a key part of that 2009 World Series victory.
“Obviously, the numbers speak for themselves,” Sabathia said. “As far as my generation, I think he’s probably the best player of our generation.”
Said Teixeira: “His numbers are up there with anybody. Numbers don’t lie.”
Perhaps, but sometimes people do, including Rodriguez. The tough times that eventually included a one-year ban from baseball in 2014 were the last thing players wanted to talk about Sunday, though. It was A-Rod Appreciation Day.
“I think there’s only one other guy I’ve ever met that likes to talk about baseball more than Alex, and that’s Cal Ripken,” Teixeira said. “These are two guys kind of from the same mold of shortstops that were un-prototypical shortstops. These guys are big, tall guys that were graceful at short.”
Had the season gone better for the team, perhaps Rodriguez still would have had a role down the stretch. But the rebuilding project has begun, and Rodriguez is not part of that equation — not as a player, at least.
“It’s sad the way it’s all gone down,” Gardner said. “Sad to see that [after] the next week or so, I’m not going to get to play with him anymore, and that [stinks] . . . I know he can still hit.”
Said Brian McCann, “Baseball, it’s his life, and it’s been an honor to play with him.”
The end of Rodriguez’s time as a Yankees player came as a shock to no one, given how much attention the idea had gotten among fans and the news media.
“I think everyone was just kind of waiting to see what was going to happen,” Sabathia said. “I felt like he was in a good spot and at peace with it and it made me feel at peace with it, I guess.”
Said Teixeira: “I think this is probably what’s best for both parties. It’s not an easy situation. This kind of stuff happens in the real world. You don’t always get to have things the way you want them, but Alex is taking it great and hopefully the next two years he’ll be a big part of this organization.”
Did Teixeira resent Rodriguez stealing some of his retirement-announcement thunder?
“Not at all,” he said. “Alex’s thunder is always a little bit louder than mine, anyway.”