The Alex Rodriguez Watch is heating up. With the announcement that the ailing superstar has been cleared for a rehab assignment, he is inches closer to resuming his position as third baseman for the New York Yankes.
Just because Rodriguez, who turns 38 on July 27, is scheduled to suit up for a cameo appearance with the Yankees’ Class A Atlantic League affiliate in Charleston, South Carolina Tuesday doesn’t mean he is ready to occupy his usual space in the field at Yankee Stadium, or will be able to do so.
The Alex Rodriguez Soap Opera has been almost as long a running show, it seems, as Days Of Our Lives. Forget his divorce and then dating models and actresses and other famous babes. Starting with the 2012 post-season when Rodriguez’s average couldn’t match his 225-pound weight at the plate, he has been king of the tabloids. He played so poorly in the playoffs that manager Joe Girardi benched him.
Then, it turned out Rodriguez was injured and needed surgery. He had a hip operation and has been recuperating for months–and months.
This is the summer of casualties for the Yankees, from Rodriguez to Derek Jeter, from Curtis Granderson to Mark Teixeira, the big guns have fallen silent. It has been a plague. There have been many suggestions, mostly rumors not terribly based on much solid info, that Rodriguez would not be healthy enough to play this season and may never be healthy enough to play again. Until he steps on the field for the Yankees we won’t really know if there is any truth in those reports.
The real wild card is whether or not Major League Baseball will allow Rodriguez to play for the Yankees if he is about to be activated. The Miami Biogensis Clinic scandal looms over all. MLB seems primed to punish anyone whose name showed up on a list of clients of the closed Florida lab. Rodriguez’s name was on the list.
Rodriguez could fight his way back to full strength, get himself in game shape by playing in the minors for a bit, and then as soon as the Yankees are ready to activate him for the big-league roster, MLB could step in and say, “Uh, uh, not so fast.” The sport’s governing body may try to slap Rodriguez with a 50-game suspension and the entire mess might devolve into a court case as the clock ticks on the rest of the 2013 schedule.
Based on numbers alone, Rodriguez is one of the greatest players in baseball history. He owns a .300 lifetime average, with 647 home runs and 1,950 runs batted in. He ranks fifth on the homer list behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. He ranks seventh on the RBI list and only Aaron, Ruth, and Cap Anson have ever accumulated more than 2,000 RBIs. Rodriguez is just one measly RBI behind Stan Musial for sixth in that ranking.
Rodriguez has played 19 years, participated in 2.524 games, is a 14-time All-Star and a three-time Most Valuable Player. His credentials are astonishing.
For the moment, all eyes will be on him playing a few innings for Charleston in Rome, Georgia in a league far, far away from the bright lights of Broadway.
Right now, although Rodriguez has moved closer to wearing pinstripes once more, we still can’t be sure whether or not Rodriguez will get closer to Broadway again without buying a ticket to “The Book Of Mormon.”
Rodriguez is so close to returning to the Yankees’ lineup, but for all we know about what’s in MLB’s mind, he may be just as far away from that happening as he was in January.