On Thursday night the New York Yankees were swept by the Detroit Tigers 8-1 in the American League Championship Series, but all the attention was focused on Alex Rodriguez’s future with the team, in which he quickly remained adamant about his return to the Yankees in 2013.
“My focus is to stay here,” he said. “Let’s make that very, very clear. I will be back and I have a lot to prove and I will come back on a mission.”
Rodriguez has a lot to prove to fans and management after posting horrendous numbers during the postseason. He batted for .111 in the ALCS and .120 for the postseason. He struck out 12 times and his struggles came against right handed pitchers.
His batting struggles led Yankees manager Joe Girardi to bench him two of the four games of the ALCS and for the fifth game of the AL Division Series against the Orioles.
After being benched by Girardi there was speculation that the Yankees would consider trading Rodriguez, but his contract has a full no-trade clause that prevents the Yankees from doing so.
There was information leaked into the media earlier in the week that contributed to the trade rumors that a conversation between Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Yankees team president Randy Levine about a possible deal to send A-Rod play in Miami where he grew up.
“I don’t get into speculation,” Rodriguez said. “I can only deal with what I can control and I’m going to take care of that.”
Rodriguez was asked by reporters Thursday if he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause.
“I haven’t thought about that,” he said. “I love New York City. I plan to be here. And I plan to come back and be productive for this team for quite a while.”
Despite Rodriguez receiving most of the blame for the teams postseason struggle, Levine had a different perspective.
“I think that too much attention is put on Alex,” Levine said. “The fact that we lost this was a total team effort, a total organization effort to single out one person is not fair. At the end of the day, we as an organization lose as an organization. We are all in this together.”
The blame can also be put on Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin. Cano hit .075 (3 for 40), Granderson hit .100 (3 for 30) and Martin hit .172, while Eric Chavez went hitless in 16 at-bats.
Rodriguez has had one of the worse seasons of his career with a .272 batting average, 18 home runs and 57 RBIs. In 2007 he won the AL MVP with a .314 batting average, 54 home runs and 156 RBIs. A sweep to the Tigers in 2006 gave him the much needed inspiration to comeback and quiet the doubters.
“I sat in this room in 2006 and there were a lot of doubters, and I said I was going to go back to the drawing board, and I did,” he said. “I came back with a vengeance in ’07. I look forward to doing the same.”
Rodriguez also wants to return next year to the Yankees with a vengeance because of his hefty contract. He currently has five years left on his contract and is guaranteed another $114 million.
Rodriguez has huge incentives in his contract if he reaches certain marks in his career while playing for the Yankees. He has a marketing agreement that could add $30 million dollars to the deal in the form of $6 million bonuses for reaching each of five target home run totals up to the all-time record of 762 held by Barry Bonds.
He is currently sitting on 647 home runs. Passing Willie Mays at 660 homers will be his next milestone bonus.
A-Rod is hoping that offseason work will boost his numbers back to the 2007 season, allowing him to play the whole season and media attention to be refocused elsewhere.
“If I do what I know I can do, Joe doesn’t have a choice,” Rodriguez said. “And neither does (Brian) Cashman or anybody. They’ll have to play me. If I am who I know I can be, they’ll worry about other guys.”