Baseball notes

A-Rod becoming a burden

Yankees unhappy with controversial, expensive slugger

The Associated PressJanuary 31, 2013 

— Alex Rodriguez was speaking on a conference call.

“A huge debacle,” he said. “Distasteful.”

That was on Dec. 13, 2007, when he re-signed with the New York Yankees and was discussing his decision 11/2 months earlier to become a free agent.

Now those words describe how some in the team’s front office feel about A-Rod’s $275 million, 10-year contract.

Once considered a player who could shatter the career home run record, Rodriguez has transformed from All-Star to annoyance for some in the Yankees organization. He hasn’t played a full season since he was voted his third AL MVP award in 2007, he’s out for at least the first half of this year following hip surgery on Jan. 16 and now he’s been accused of again receiving performance-enhancing drugs — an allegation he denies.

Even before the charges were published Tuesday by the alternative weekly Miami New Times along with accusations against Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal, some Yankees executives were wishing Rodriguez would just go away. Speaking on condition of anonymity because the team isn’t publicly commenting on A-Rod’s latest troubles, they revealed their frustration with the slugger.

And they have a big incentive for A-Rod to disappear. If he doesn’t play again due to a career-ending injury, about 85 percent of the $114 million he’s owed by the team would be covered by insurance, according to one of the executives who spoke on condition of anonymity.

New York is not likely to be able to void A-Rod’s deal. Baseball’s drug agreement between management and the players’ association specifies the commissioner’s office has all disciplinary authority for violations.

While Rodriguez rebounded from right hip surgery in March 2009 to help the Yankees to their first World Series title since 2000, Dr. Bryan Kelly said recovery from his operation on A-Rod’s left hip this month will be more complex if for no other reason than it receives more stress because Rodriguez is a right-handed hitter.

Even before the latest kerfuffle, A-Rod seemed to have worn out his welcome.

Yankees management tired of spotting him on the gossip pages with Madonna, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz and Torrie Wilson.

New York’s brass bristled when he was seen with a stripper in Toronto, at a swingers’ club in Dallas and at an illegal poker club in New York.

Rodriguez’s 647 home runs are 115 shy of tying Barry Bonds’ career record but he has totaled 34 the past two seasons and his 38th birthday is in late July.

Yankees interested in Hafner

The Yankees are speaking with the agent for free agent Travis Hafner and might try to sign the 35-year-old to compete for time as a left-handed designated hitter.

Hafner spent the past decade with Cleveland and hit .228 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs last year. He would take over a role filled last year by Raul Ibanez, who left the Yankees to sign with Seattle.

Signings

Shaun Marcum officially signed with the Mets and said his goal is to pitch “200-plus innings.” In 21 starts for Milwaukee last year, he was 7-4 with a 3.71 ERA. ...

The Arizona Diamondbacks have finalized their $5 million, two-year contract with shortstop Cliff Pennington. ...

The Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to terms with infielder Andy LaRoche on a minor league contract that includes an invitation to spring training. ...

The Miami Marlins claimed right-hander Sam Dyson (USC) off waivers from Toronto. Dyson made two appearances for the Blue Jays last July, giving up four hits and allowing three runs while recording only two outs. ...

The Los Angeles Angels and reliever Kevin Jepsen have agreed to a one-year contract worth $1,181,250, avoiding arbitration.

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