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.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉