Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — New York Yankees’ star Alex Rodriguez said a tearful goodbye to the game of baseball Sunday as the team announced that he will play in his final game next Friday, Aug. 12 before taking on the role as a special adviser and instructor to the team.
“This is a tough day. I love this game and I love this team. And today I’m saying goodbye to both,” Rodriguez said before shedding tears. He went on to thank his family.
“Thank you for your support. You’ve been through so much with me,” he said.
The 41-year-old designated hitter, formerly a third baseman and Gold Glove-winning shortstop, has had a storied 22-year career on the baseball diamond and is widely regarded as one of baseball’s greatest players.
He has also has had his share of scandal, largely due to his use of performance enhancing drugs, something he first admitted to in 2009, as well as to his record-breaking contracts.
He signed a $252 million, 10-year contract with Texas before the 2001 season, the largest agreement in baseball history, and then opted out of that to sign on with the Yankees for whom he won MVP in 2007, becoming a free agent. He then signed a $275 million deal with the Yankees.
On Aug. 5, 2013, Major League Baseball suspended Rodriguez from Aug. 8 through the end of the 2014 season, a total of 211 regular-season games plus any postseason games, for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.
The scandal drew attention outside of the sports landscape because of Rodriguez’s celebrity status and his stature in baseball. Rodriguez, who is from Florida, emerged as wunderkind and was touted as the number one overall prospect in baseball before his call-up by the Seattle Mariners in 1994. He was selected for 14 All-Star games along the way and won three Most Valuable Player awards.
He amassed 696 home runs in his career, ranking fourth all-time in baseball history, ahead of Willie Mays and behind Babe Ruth.
This year, Rodriguez’ numbers have declined. He’s hit nine home runs in 216 at-bats, but has an on-base percentage of .252, well below his career mark of .380. He has struck out 27.8 percent of his times at bat, according to Fangraphs.com. In contrast, during his 2007 MVP season with the Yankees, he posted a strikeout rate of 16.9 percent.
The Yankees meanwhile are in a rebuilding phase, shedding some veteran players and acquiring young talent. MLB.com recently rated their farm system as the second best in the game, behind another rebuilding team, the Milwaukee Brewers.
Rodriguez’s new role will be to mentor and teach those younger players.
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