He’s got Hall of Fame credentials with 647 career home runs in 19 Major League seasons. He’s earned more than $200 million in that time.
It would have been real easy for Alex Rodriguez to not pay attention to the youngsters during his current 20-day rehab assignment. Instead, the Yankees slugging third baseman has taken to the atmosphere and the minor leaguers.
“I’m truly humble to have all this time with these young kids,” said Rodriguez, who will end his stay in the minors today and is expected to be activated by New York on Monday — barring a setback.
His journey back from left hip surgery in January started at the beginning of the month in Low-A Charleston and he’s hit every level in the organization, going to High-A Tampa then Double-A Trenton last week before finishing up in Moosic with the RailRiders.
Along the way, he has met nearly all of the organization’s prospects, taken time to answer questions by holding a question-and-answer session at each level, among other clubhouse activities.
“These minor league kids, they ask more questions than the New York media,” he said. “The whole farm system with New York, we’re in tremendous hands. At every level, there’s guys that I can think of that are going to be factors in New York. I’m excited for the fan base in New York.”
He not only got plenty of adoration from the players in each clubhouse, he received a smattering of cheers and jeers from the fans in each ballpark he stopped at — and also some surprising love on the field.
“In A-ball I asked the umpire ‘3-2?’ and he goes ‘yes, sir,’” Rodriguez said. “I’ve never been called sir by an umpire, so that was interesting.”
It’s been a while since Rodriguez spent this amount of time in the minors. By the time this stint concludes, the three-time American League Most Valuable Player will have played in more than a dozen games. Rodriguez hadn’t played that many games in the minors since 1995, when he saw action in 54 games for Triple-A Tacoma as an 19-year-old in Seattle’s organization. He’s also spent time signing many autographs for fans at each stop, holding up the start of Friday’s game at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre until he got off the field. And even signing for fans in Reading when he was part of the visiting Trenton team at the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate.
As A-Rod ends his rehab assignment, he witnessed outfielders Melky Mesa and Thomas Neal get called into the manager’s office Friday night to get news that they were heading up the Major Leagues with New York. It was something the superstar hadn’t been a part of in quite some time.
“You take a day like (Friday), when you see two young kids get the call. You see the smiles on their faces, it’s a pretty special time for me,” said Rodriguez, who will turn 38 on July 27. “These 20 days, I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. I make it a point every time I leave one of the teams to go in the manager’s office and thank him for being on their team and putting me in their lineup — and to bring this little mini circus to their city.”