After 22 seasons loaded with equal parts personal achievement and controversy, New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez announced his retirement and will play just four more games in pinstripes.
Saying his decision was “tough” during a press conference Sunday, the 41-year-old three-time American League MVP and 14-time All-Star has trudged through the 2016 season with injuries and poor performances at the plate for a career-worst .204 average with nine home runs and 29 RBI over 62 games.
Rodriguez is expected to play during New York’s three-game road outing against the archrival Boston Red Sox beginning Wednesday, and his final game will be Friday night against the AL East bottom-dwelling Tampa Bay Rays.
Rodriguez, however, never officially used the word “retire” or "retirement," and while he’s expected to be unconditionally released from his contract in order to ink a new deal as a special advisor and instructor for the Yankees he could potentially sign with another team.
“No athlete ever ends a career the way you want to,” Rodriguez said. “We all want to keep playing forever, but it doesn’t work that way. Accepting the end gracefully is part of being a professional athlete. Saying goodbye may be the hardest part of the job, but that’s what I’m doing today.’’
After Friday’s game, Rodriguez will be released from the final two years of the 10-year, $275 million contract he signed with New York. Rodriguez will report to team owner Hal Steinbrenner, who Rodriguez said he spoke to over the last few days.
"A lot's happened the last 72 hours,'' Rodriguez said. "You know, when Hal told me, I just told him: 'Give me a few days. I need to kind of think on this, sleep on it.' I have not thought past the pinstripes, and my horizon is Friday. And, I haven't thought much more than that.''
Still, Yankees manager Joe Girardi hasn’t explicitly said Rodriguez will see a good amount of time at the plate over the next four games.
"He's earned the right for us to sit down and have a conversation,'' Girardi said. “If he wants to play in every game, I'll find a way.''
Given the team’s moves at the trade deadline and its current position in the AL wild-card race, Girardi’s decision is made all the easier. At 56-55, New York is 7.5 games back of the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the AL East and sits five games behind the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers from both of the league’s wild-card spots.
New York traded relievers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman at the trade deadline last month to shore up and greatly improve its farm system, effectively stating a postseason run was all but unrealistic.
Rodriguez, though, has struggled against the Red Sox this season. In six games, he’s hit .190 with two home runs and five RBI with two walks and a strikeout in 23 plate appearances.
Rodriguez’s announcement has caused tickets for his last four games to skyrocket on the secondary market. According to the New York Post, fans could purchase a seat to Friday’s matchup against the Rays at Yankee Stadium for as little as $16 but it’s since shot up to a minimum of $85.
Boston fans have seen a huge rise on the secondary market thanks to Rodriguez. The cheapest seat for Tuesday’s game at Fenway Park is now $87 on StubHub.com. A much cheaper and perhaps affordable option comes on Wednesday, with seats still going for as little as $49 in the left-field standing-room-only section.
Thursday’s game, however, is now $64 for a spot on the first-base standing-room-only section for potentially Rodriguez’s last game at Fenway.
Yankees Schedule For Rodriguez's Last Four Games
Tuesday, Aug. 9 at Boston, 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Aug. 10 at Boston, 7 p.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 11 at Boston, 7:10 p.m. ET
Friday, Aug. 12 vs. Tampa Bay, 7:05 p.m. ET