NEW YORK -- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner took the high road concerning his wayward third baseman during an interview with a small group of New York reporters at the owners meetings in Phoenix today, calling Alex Rodriguez "a great player" and "obviously an asset."
And while some might say A-Rod has become a pain in the asset to the Yankees, the owner sounded as if he had no intentions of cutting ties with a player to whom he still owes $61 million between now and 2017. "I have not thought about 2015, nor am I going to right now," Steinbrenner told the New York Post, among others. "My focus has to be right now. But when he’s on and when he’s healthy, he’s obviously an asset. We’ll see what happens."
It was a much more cordial exchange than you might have expected considering the estrangement between the two parties -- A-Rod is suing Yankees team doctor Chris Ahmad for medical malpractice and he and his legal team believe the Yankees were in cahoots with Major League Baseball to run him out of the game and his unwieldy contract -- via the Biogenesis investigation that resulted in an unprecedented 162-game suspension from arbitrator Fredric Horowitz this past weekend.
But Steinbrenner, a self-proclaimed "finance geek," tends to view these matters with the dispassionate eye of a CPA. "Those of you that know me, I’m pretty objective in my thinking," he said. "This is business. I’m just focusing on the team, a player. Is the player an asset to the club or not? That’s about as far as I look. I don’t get personal."
And personally speaking, Steinbrenner said he still considered A-Rod to be a valuable member of his ballclub. "When Alex Rodriguez is healthy and himself, I think most objective baseball people would say he could be an asset to a club," he told the Post.
On the subject of whether he expected A-Rod to show up at spring training next month in spite of the suspension, Steinbrenner said, "We haven’t even talked about it. Cross that bridge when we come to it kind of thing. We’re going to reach out to [Major League Baseball], get their advice obviously, but haven’t even addressed it."