PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — Has Alex Rodriguez accepted that he is not going to play baseball in 2014?
The suspended Yankees third baseman, speaking on Wednesday for the first time since an arbitrator ruled he has to sit out the entire season, told reporters in Mexico City: “I think in the year 2014, the league could have done me a favor because I’ve played 20 years without a timeout.”
Rodriguez’s comments were made in Spanish and translated by ESPN. He was speaking at the opening of the Alex Rodriguez Energy Fitness center — a gym he’s affiliated with — according to ESPN. He did not take questions.
“I think 2014 will be a year to rest,” said Rodriguez, 38. “Mentally, physically prepare myself for the future and begin the next chapter in my life . . . I have three years left on my contract starting in 2015 and I hope to play very well and finish my career in New York.”
His spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, said Thursday that Rodriguez’s comments do not mean he is dropping the lawsuit challenging his suspension or giving up his quest to play for the Yankees in 2014. “This process has been taxing both mentally and physically throughout the past eight months,” Berkowitz said in a statement. “Alex will abide by the rulings of the federal judge — whatever he decides — and get ready for 2015 should the judge rule against him. He will continue to move forward with his complaint, which will help all players against this unfair system.”
Rodriguez is suing Major League Baseball and the players’ union in federal court in an attempt to overturn the record 162-game ban he received for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. Rodriguez originally was suspended for 211 games by commissioner Bud Selig, but it was reduced to the entire 2014 season and postseason by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz in a decision announced last Saturday.
A-Rod is eligible to return in 2015, when he still will have three years and $61 million left on his Yankees contract. The suspension is costing him more than $22 million of his $25-million salary for 2014. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner on Wednesday called Rodriguez “a great player” and “an asset” and did not rule out A-Rod playing for the club again in 2015.
In Mexico City, Rodriguez called his suspension “a very sad story. And I hope we can take it out of the newspapers and I hope we can start concentrating on the good things the big league is doing with all the young players moving forward.”
Rodriguez also told reporters that he has received support “not just from my Yankees teammates but also players from other teams, retired players, Hall of Fame players and lots of good people, owners of other teams.”
Selig, who said on “60 Minutes” last Sunday that he believes the original 211-game punishment was just, declined to answer questions about A-Rod at the owners’ meetings on Thursday.
Steven Marcus contributed to this report.