A-Rod starts new role as Yan­kees’ in­struc­tor

Rodriguez be­gins new role as Yan­kees’ mi­nor league in­struc­tor less than two months af­ter play­ing fi­nal game as ma­jor lea­guer

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Didtler

Alex Rodriguez is back on the field for the New York Yan­kees in his new role as an in­struc­tor.

A-Rod ar­rived Fri­day at the Yan­kees’ mi­nor league com­plex in Tampa, Florida, to work with prospects tak­ing part in in­struc­tional league.

Rodriguez, wear­ing white pin­stripe pants and a dark blue Yan­kees T-shirt, talked with Clint Fra­zier, Blake Ruther­ford and Jorge Ma­teo af­ter early hit­ting drills on Derek Jeter Field. He also spent time talk­ing with coaches and play­ers dur­ing reg­u­lar bat­ting prac­tice.

Rodriguez wore a No. 13 uni­form while in the du­gout dur­ing Fri­day’s game against Toronto.

“It still fits. That’s a good thing,” Rodriguez said with a smile. “It feels great to be back in pin­stripes.”

Rodriguez is sched­uled to meet with the play­ers in the club­house be­fore Satur­day’s game with Bal­ti­more.

The 41-year-old Rodriguez played his fi­nal game with New York on Aug. 12. He signed a con­tract to work with mi­nor lea­guers in the Yan­kees farm sys­tem through 2017.

“We owe the game,” Rodriguez said. “In many ways it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity and priv­i­lege to pay it for­ward.”

Fra­zier, Ma­teo and Ruther­ford, along with Gley­ber Tor­res and Miguel An­du­jar, are part of a deep group bol­stered by a se­ries of trades this sea­son.

“The tal­ent jumps off the page,”

Rodriguez said. “This is as much good young tal­ent that I’ve seen here in all my years here.”

Rodriguez be­lieves catcher Gary Sanchez, called up in Au­gust, is part of a core of play­ers from player de­vel­op­ment that will make a ma­jor im­pact.

“When he hit that bomb off Tazawa in Bos­ton when I was there, I started to think it’s about time for me to take care of my girls be­cause I could no longer do that,” Rodriguez said.

“When you’re in the du­gout and you can feel some­body’s heart beat at game time, you can tell there’s unique calm­ness about him. It’s very un­usual for a rookie. Pretty awe­some to see what he’s do­ing.”

Rodriguez will also serve as a studio an­a­lyst dur­ing the play­offs for Fox for the sec­ond straight year. The net­work said Thurs­day that he’ll make his 2016 de­but Oct. 7 on Fox Sports 1 for the start of the NL di­vi­sion se­ries. Rodriguez is en­joy­ing his life af­ter play­ing, es­pe­cially spending time with daugh­ters. “I am,” he said. “I’m mak­ing more round trips with all these events. It’s great to be more part of it now. They of­ten tell me, ‘Dad, we’re glad you’re home.”’

Rodriguez was re­leased a day af­ter his fi­nal game as part of an agree­ment reached fol­low­ing con­ver­sa­tions with Yan­kees manag­ing gen­eral part­ner Hal Stein­bren­ner. mDur­ing his in­struc­tional time, he’ll re­port di­rectly to Stein­bren­ner. The Yan­kees are re­spon­si­ble for the fi­nal year of Rodriguez’s $275 mil­lion, 10-year player con­tract in 2017.

A 14-time All-Star, Rodriguez hit .200 with nine homers and 31 RBIs in 65 games this sea­son. He has 696 ca­reer homers and trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on the ca­reer list.

Rodriguez led the Yan­kees to their 2009 World Se­ries ti­tle, but it’s been a tu­mul­tuous ten­ure since he ar­rived be­fore the 2004 sea­son in a trade with Texas. Start­ing in 2008, the three­time AL MVP made six trips to the dis­abled list in six sea­sons.

Ma­jor League Base­ball sus­pended him on Aug. 5, 2013, for the rest of that sea­son and all of 2014 for vi­o­la­tions of base­ball’s drug and la­bor con­tract.

LYNNE SLADKY — AP FILE

Alex Rodriguez is back on the field for the Yan­kees in his new role as an in­struc­tor. He ar­rived Fri­day at the team’s mi­nor league com­plex in Tampa, Fla. to work with prospects tak­ing part in in­struc­tional league.

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