The Yankees retained Chase Headley on a four-year, $52 million contract with the intention of using him as their regular third baseman in 2015, but don’t tell Alex Rodriguez. While he currently projects to serve as a DH and backup corner infielder, a source familiar with his thinking tells Steven Marcus of New York Newsday that Rodriguez believes he will beat out Headley for the starting third base job this spring:
“Alex’s mind is that job’s not Headley’s, it’s Alex’s to lose,” the source said. “That’s what he thinks. Alex is going into training camp thinking that he is the starting third baseman, that if there’s a competition, Headley’s got to win it from him. It doesn’t matter about the money, what they signed Headley for. This guy [Rodriguez] can play.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was told about Rodriguez’s mindset and said “we signed our third baseman,” so it’s clear where he stands on the situation. Still, is it really the worst thing for A-Rod to feel this way? He’ll probably be called delusional or something, but remember that he’s a hyper-competitive athlete with pride and an ego. If Headley’s presence provides that extra motivation for the 39-year-old to come into camp ready to prove folks wrong and contribute after his year-long PED suspension, so be it.
“Alex is looking at this season as a fresh start,” one friend said. “He’s prepared to do the best he can in his role as a DH, but he is also preparing to play third base, knowing there will be times that Headley needs a break.
He knows that Joe Girardi is a manager who likes to have options and wants to keep all his players fresh, so he knows he will get some time at third, and he feels being used in that way is good for the team overall. Everyone can get a break.
“He’s really got a positive approach to the whole thing, and the way he has been working to get in shape and also keep himself flexible has been impressive.”
A-Rod is ready and willing to accept his new diminished role. That’s not nearly as exciting, now is it?