Alex Rodriguez just concluded his first minor league rehab game with the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs. And while he didn’t contribute much in the way of offense, the night was far from a failure.
The veteran third baseman grounded into a double play in his first at-bat and struck out looking in his second at-bat, but he played three innings at third base and most importantly had no issues with his surgically-repaired hip. There was an over-capacity crowd at Charleston’s Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park — a big boost for that affiliate — and A-Rod thanked them for coming by signing autographs down the right-field line for a while after being removed from the lineup in the bottom of the third.
Rodriguez will slowly wind his way through the Yankees’ minor league system, working his way up to full nine-inning games. He is expected to return from his January hip surgery right around the All-Star break.
Yankees third baseman have hit .227/.288/.310 in 2013 and Kevin Youkilis is done for the year.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.