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Yankees are ready to welcome back A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez reacts at first base after hitting

Alex Rodriguez reacts at first base after hitting an eighth-inning RBI single during the Yankees' 5-4 victory over the Mets. (June 10, 2012) Credit: AP

BOSTON -- As the Season of Jeter comes to a close, the Offseason of A-Rod is about to begin.

Alex Rodriguez's season-long suspension for his role in the Biogenesis affair is set to end once the Yankees' season finishes Sunday at Fenway Park.

General manager Brian Cashman said yesterday he had a phone conversation about 10 days ago and one text-message exchange on Friday with Rodriguez about getting back into the Yankees fold.

The message: A-Rod is ready to rock. And the Yankees are ready to welcome him home.

"When you deal with Alex regarding baseball, which is what he loves, what he's been obviously very good at, his work ethic has never been in question, so the dialogue that I had with him recently was professional and good," Cashman said before the Yankees faced the Red Sox. "Nothing bad about it. He responded immediately. He was out in California. Told me where he was at physically, how excited he was to get back into play, threw his ideas about what he wants to do, mapping out through this winter in terms of who he's going to work with and how he's going to prepare."

Cashman said he called Rodriguez to ask if he wanted to play in winter ball to help prepare him for the 2015 season. Rodriguez, 39, hasn't played since Sept. 25, 2013.

Cashman said Rodriguez said he did not want to play in winter ball. Cashman also said there was no rift between the club and A-Rod about that decision.

"It wasn't like a directive -- 'This is what we want you to do,'" Cashman said. "It was, 'Is this something you're interested in doing? . . . Is that an avenue you want to do? Yes or no?' And it was a no. No judgment on it. No issue with it. No concern from it."

Cashman said he asked Rodriguez about winter ball because the Yankees would have to look into whether they could get insurance on his contract if he participated. Rodriguez has three years and $61 million left along with bonuses for reaching certain home-run milestones.

The relationship between A-Rod and the Yankees has been strained, to put it mildly. But Cashman, whose own contract is up Oct. 31, says he's ready to leave A-Rod's problems in the past. They communicated earlier this summer, Cashman said, when Rodriguez took an insurance physical (he passed, according to Cashman).

"We had a good conversation on that end," he said. "I would term it good. I didn't rehash anything in the past. It's not productive to do so. He's been suspended, he's served his time, it gets completed by [Sunday] and he'll be re-introduced at some point."

With Jeter leaving, the Yankees are a team in transition. They have to pay Rodriguez whether or not he plays, so this offseason and next spring training will be about whether he physically can play after two hip surgeries and (presumably) without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.

"He's doing two-a-days right now, last I remember," Cashman said. "I believe he said it was at UCLA. Between that and his workouts in Miami. He's going to plan on working with our staff down in Tampa at some point this winter and he looks forward to reintroducing himself in a positive way for us going forward."

Still, Cashman said he's not counting on anything from A-Rod yet. He wouldn't say if he considered Rodriguez the team's third baseman next season.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't have expectations because I don't know what to expect. It's a unique circumstance."

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