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Spotlight in offseason will shine on Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees celebrates his seventh-inning

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees celebrates his seventh-inning grand slam against the San Francisco Giants at Yankee Stadium. (Sept. 20, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Alex Rodriguez won't inherit Derek Jeter's title of "face of Major League Baseball," but in some ways he will.

There won't be a more talked about player in the upcoming offseason than A-Rod.

The third baseman came off MLB's suspended list after Game 7 of the World Series Wednesday night, officially starting the countdown to a Yankees spring training that very well could be a good fit for a circus tent.

Every A-Rod movement getting to February will be reported on extensively. No one knows exactly what to expect from the 39-year-old, who began patching up his toxic relationship with the club over the summer when he dropped several lawsuits involving it.

All indications are Rodriguez spent the last year staying in shape but, obviously, there is a difference between being in good physical condition and being ready for the grind of a major league season.

"I don't know what to expect because he missed a full year," Brian Cashman said recently while discussing his extension to continue as the club's general manager. "I know I expect hard work and dedication because that's something he does bring. He's going to work his tail off and he's going to compete, that I can count on. Can I count on the results that come with the position? That I don't think, in my chair or Joe Girardi's chair, is the safe route to take."

That is one of the reasons why Cashman will be exploring alternatives at third base this offseason -- the Yankees, for example, would like to re-sign one of their own free agents, Chase Headley. Girardi a few weeks ago talked to A-Rod about getting some work at first base during the spring.

It is a move that makes sense as, even before his season-long suspension, Rodriguez's body had shown signs of deteriorating.

From 2008-13, A-Rod, owed $61 million over the next three seasons, had at least one stint on the disabled list each year, playing in a total of only 664 games, including just 44 games in 2013. Earlier this month, Matt Krause, the club's strength and conditioning coach, spent time in Miami working A-Rod out.

"Matt's given a thumbs up," Cashman said. "This is obviously a dedicated and hard-working athlete who is very determined and motivated to come back and be successful."


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