Alex Rodriguez AP

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.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.