Starting his new gig as ESPN’s Sunday night game analyst, Alex Rodriguez won’t complain about endless pitching changes and trips to the mound.
“I’m biased, I’m probably the wrong person to ask,” he said Friday. “I can watch a five-hour game.”
Rodriguez was released by the New York Yankees in August 2016 following 696 home runs, three AL MVP awards, a season-long drug suspension and enough tabloid headlines to fill a floor at the Hall of Fame.
He started at Fox as a studio analyst that October and remained in that role last year, when he also worked three games as a booth commentator alongside Joe Buck and Kevin Burkhardt.
Just as he did at third base for the Yankees in 2004, A-Rod is replacing Aaron Boone. Rodriguez and holdover Jessica Mendoza will be analysts alongside new play-by-play man Matt Vasgersian. Dan Shulman retired from last year’s ESPN crew, and Boone left to manage the Yankees.
When discussing rules changes proposed by management to speed the game, A-Rod is as much a politician now as he was during his playing days.
“I think there’s going to be a trial and error. Not everything’s going to be perfect,” he said. “We have to have an open mind and understand it’s a very fluid time, and we’re competing for eyeballs when there’s more distractions today than ever before.”
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner hired Rodriguez as a special adviser and instructor through the end of his contract last season. Asked whether he will retain a role with the Yankees, all A-Rod would say is “I’m having conversations with Hal right now.”
Smart and glib, Rodriguez has worked to change his image since his suspension for all of 2014, assessed by major league baseball for violations of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract.
“First of all, I’ve changed. So it starts with you, right?” he said. “Once I served my suspension and I had the whole year to sit down and reflect, I wanted to in many years turn the lens inward and try to figure out a better way, because I knew that I needed some type of paradigm shift.
“And the suspension was long enough, unfortunately or fortunately, to allow me to think about changes and putting that change in motion.”
Absent his use of performance-enhancing drugs, Rodriguez would likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
“I’d be sitting here lying to you if I said it wouldn’t be an absolute dream to get into the Hall of Fame. Of course I would want to get into the Hall of Fame. But I certainly don’t control that,” he said.
“But I think what I can control is my behavior, my actions, what kind of father I am, what kind of teammate I am to people like Matt and Jessica and Kevin Burkhardt and Joe Buck, whoever is my teammate. So I think it’s not an image. This is a long ride and it’s a slow burn. And nothing’s going to happen easy.”
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