Alex Rodriguez contributes to victory in New York Yankees' swan song

By Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
Alex Rodriguez contributes to victory in New York Yankees' swan song
New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez stands on the field at batting practice before what is to be his final game in the MLB against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium in New York City on August 12, 2016. Alex Rodriguez will end his 22-year playing career with the fourth-most homers in Major League history at 697. Rodriguez will remain in the Yankees organization as an instructor. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez savored every moment of his final game for the New York Yankees and possibly the last of his eventful 22-year career.

The moment that touched him the most was when manager Joe Girardi gave the 41-year-old an opportunity to play third base for one more out.


Rodriguez had a memorable finale with the Yankees, getting an RBI double in his first at-bat and walking off the field as a third baseman to a standing ovation and embraces from his teammates as he ended his 13-year run in New York during Friday's 6-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

"I'm very grateful that Joe gave me the opportunity to play third for one out," Rodriguez said. "I was actually excited."

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Rodriguez's final act occurred when he took the field for the first time all season in the top of the inning as Dellin Betances came on for the save. Once Betances got a strikeout for the first out, he was replaced by Ronald Torreyes and walked off the field embracing his teammates, and waving to the crowd.

"Playing third base," Rodriguez said. "My glove was rusty. The other thing was I was also stressed because once Joe made me the full time DH, I retired my cup. So then I was very stressed and I got really low.

"I screamed to Betances, the same thing that ironically Cal Ripken screamed to Roger Clemens at the All-Star game in 2000 when we switched. He said strike him out Roger and I said exactly the same thing."

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Rodriguez finally had the chance to play third base after asking Girardi about it earlier this week when the team was in Boston. It wasn't something Girardi was necessarily going to do with a two-run lead but when Aaron Hicks homered in the seventh for a three-run cushion, Rodriguez got his wish.

"It was kind of my hope that it would work out this way," Girardi said. "He was excited and it just worked out. That sixth run was a big run."


When Betances recorded the final out, Rodriguez thanked Girardi on the field and grabbed a handful of dirt from near third base.

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"If this is the last time he plays, I wanted it to be something he never forgot," Girardi said while fighting back tears.

As for whether this actually was his final game, Rodriguez did not say he was retiring but also said it would be hard to imagine a better ending while also ending his press conference by saying: "I'm at peace."

Before Rodriguez walked off the field to the ovation, he was honored in a ceremony which appropriately enough was conducted with loud thunder in the background.

"You can't make that up," Rodriguez said. "I guess we went out with a bang."

Once the game started, Rodriguez heard loud ovations every time he walked to the plate. He clapped his hands emphatically after getting a stand-up double off Chris Archer (6-16) on a full count fastball in his first at-bat.

"We wanted to win a game and I wanted to contributed somehow," Rodriguez said.

"Given his history to see they still support him fully and chanted for him basically every inning, it was pretty cool," Archer said.


Rodriguez applauded from the dugout as Starlin Castro drove in four runs. Castro had a two-run single in the fourth and a two-run homer in the sixth.

Following Castro's 13th home run, Rodriguez was among the first teammates to greet the second baseman in the dugout. He celebrated the home run by lifting both arms in triumph and applauded.

CC Sabathia (7-9), one of three remaining members of the 2009 championship team, allowed three runs and four hits in six innings. Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren pitched a scoreless inning apiece before Betances notched his fourth save.

Evan Longoria drove in two runs for Tampa Bay, which also has been the opponent in New York for Mariano Rivera's final game and Derek Jeter's 3000th hit.

Archer allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings.

NOTES: Alex Rodriguez participated in a nearly 11-minute press conference before Friday's game and among the highlights were his closing comments. "With all my screw-ups and how badly I acted, the fact that I'm walking out the door and Hal (Steinbrenner) wants me as part of the family, that's hitting 800 home runs." ... In the last five years, other notable players to appear in their final game against Tampa Bay were C Jorge Posada (Yankees, 2011), DH Jim Thome (Baltimore, 2012), RHP Mariano Rivera (Yankees, 2013) and DH Jason Giambi (2014, Cleveland). ... The only Rays in pro ball when Rodriguez joined the Yankees in 2004 are RHP Kevin Jepsen and C Bobby Wilson. ... The Yankees placed RHP Nathan Eovaldi (right elbow tendon) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled RHP Luis Severino from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. ... Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier (flu-like symptoms) did not start.


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