NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez’s corner locker in the New York Yankees’ clubhouse is filled with four cardboard boxes of bats, a dozen jerseys, a dangling athletic supporter, two baseball caps and four books.
Rodriguez, who turned 38 Saturday, is something of a cornered man himself these days.
The Yankees consider him a major annoyance.
That tension, however, pales when compared to what’s going on with Major League Baseball.
Any time now, Rodriguez is expected to be hit with a lengthy penalty that could put him out of baseball indefinitely or perhaps even permanently.
And MLB’s investigation to possible ties between Rodriguez and a Florida clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs isn’t even the primary source of the deteriorating relationship. The Yankees owe him just under $95 million through 2017, and he’s missed the entire season following hip surgery in January.
After a week’s worth of high drama, it seems Rodriguez is about to be lumped with Yankees who sort of just didn’t fit, failed or just faded away – the Dave Winfield, Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano wing of infamy rather than the Monument Park honor roll of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.
When he arrived in February 2004, the sign board outside old Yankee Stadium proclaimed: “A Rod, Welcome to NY.”
Now the message from the Yankees is: We don’t want to see you ever again.
This was supposed to be the best time of Rodriguez’s career.
Fifth on the career list with 647 home runs, he was set to pass Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) and become the all-time leader.
But his life has seemed to unravel since Dec. 13, 2007, when his record $275 million, 10-year contract was finalized – on the same day George Mitchell issued his report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.