TAMPA, Fla. — Alex Rodriguez is back on the field for the New York Yankees in his new role as an instructor.
A-Rod arrived Friday at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa to work with prospects taking part in instructional league.
Wearing white pinstripe pants and a dark blue Yankees T-shirt, Rodriguez talked with Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford and Jorge Mateo after early hitting drills on Derek Jeter Field. He also spent time talking with coaches and players during regular batting practice.
Rodriguez wore a No. 13 uniform while in the dugout during Friday’s game against Toronto.
“It still fits. That’s a good thing,” Rodriguez said with a smile. “It feels great to be back in pinstripes.”
Rodriguez is scheduled to meet with the players in the clubhouse before Saturday’s game with Baltimore.
The 41-year-old played his final game with New York on Aug. 12. He signed a contract to work with minor leaguers in the Yankees farm system through 2017.
“We owe the game,” Rodriguez said. “In many ways it’s our responsibility and privilege to pay it forward.”
Frazier, Mateo and Rutherford, along with Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, are part of a deep group bolstered by a series of trades this season.
“The talent jumps off the page,” Rodriguez said. “This is as much good young talent that I’ve seen here in all my years here.”
Rodriguez believes catcher Gary Sanchez, called up in August, is part of a core of players from player development that will make a major impact.
“When he hit that bomb off Tazawa in Boston when I was there, I started to think it’s about time for me to take care of my girls because I could no longer do that,” Rodriguez said. “When you’re in the dugout and you can feel somebody’s heart beat at game time, you can tell there’s unique calmness about him. It’s very unusual for a rookie. Pretty awesome to see what he’s doing.”
Rodriguez will also serve as a studio analyst during the playoffs for Fox for the second straight year. The network said Thursday that he’ll make his 2016 debut Oct. 7 on Fox Sports 1 for the start of the NL Division Series.
Rodriguez is enjoying his life after playing, especially spending time with daughters.
“I am,” he said. “I’m making more round trips with all these events. It’s great to be more part of it now. They often tell me, ‘Dad, we’re glad you’re home.'”
Rodriguez was released a day after his final game as part of an agreement reached following conversations with Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner. During his instructional time, he’ll report directly to Steinbrenner.
“He knew the game, and those kids should sit around and just pick his brain,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in New York. “And he can help in some dos and don’ts.”
The Yankees are responsible for the final year of Rodriguez’s $275 million, 10-year player contract in 2017.
A 14-time All-Star, Rodriguez hit .200 with nine homers and 31 RBIs in 65 games this season. He has 696 career homers and trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on the career list.
Rodriguez led the Yankees to their 2009 World Series title, but it’s been a tumultuous tenure since he arrived before the 2004 season in a trade with Texas. Starting in 2008, the three-time AL MVP made six trips to the disabled list in six seasons.
Major League Baseball suspended him for the 2014 season for violations of baseball’s drug and labor contract.