Alex Rodriguez: “I refuse to quit”

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today conducted an interesting interview with Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is currently two games into a minor league rehab assignment as he attempts to make his way back from hip surgery. It’s well worth your time.

There’s a lot to chew on with this interview, but the main gist is that Rodriguez has every intention of coming back, even though he’s well aware that many Yankees fans would like to see him gone.

“I know people think I’m nuts,” he tells USA TODAY Sports, in his first extensive interview since last season. “I know most people wouldn’t want the confrontation. Most people would say, ‘Get me out of here. Trade me. Do anything.’

“But I’m the (expletive) crazy man who goes, ‘I want to compete. I want to stay in New York. I refuse to quit.’

“Maybe it’s stupidity, I don’t know, but I’m wired to compete and give my best. I have a responsibility to be ready to play as soon as I can.”

Rodriguez was asked about his connection to the Biogenesis clinic in South Florida, but said he has been instructed by his lawyers not to comment on the allegations until MLB finishes their investigation.

“Right now, we kind of got our hands tied,” he says. “It’s so hard and frustrating because we’re in a world that you’re guilty before being proven innocent.

“It’s not supposed to (expletive) be that way.”

Rodriguez, who turns 38 later this month, went 0-for-4 with one strikeout in two rehab games with Class A Charleston this week. He’s moving up to High-A Tampa on Friday and hopes to rejoin the Yankees on July 22 against the Rangers in Texas.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.