TORONTO -- A measure of how far the relationship between Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees has come in the past year can be found in the news release the club sent Friday announcing it would honor A-Rod's accomplishment of reaching the 3,000-hit plateau in a special pregame ceremony at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 13.
A-Rod's reaction to the announcement might also be a measure of how far that relationship still has to go.
"I was in disbelief," Rodriguez said before Friday's night game between the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays, the first of a three-game series that will decide temporary ownership of the AL East.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I was extremely excited and flattered, and surprised."
Rodriguez, who achieved the milestone with a home run off Justin Verlander on June 19 at Yankee Stadium, would not reveal which member of the Yankees' front office informed him he would be so honored, but a team source told ESPN.com it was a joint decision of team president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman, chief operating officer Lonn Trost, assistant general manager Jean Afterman, senior vice president of marketing Debbie Tymon -- and A-Rod himself.
The gesture was surprising considering the acrimony between the Yankees and A-Rod after his 162-game suspension by MLB in connection with the Biogenesis investigation, and the dispute over payment of a $6 million home run bonus to Rodriguez for hitting home run No. 660, a dispute that was later settled with a donation to charity in a lesser amount.
"I think it's amazing," Rodriguez said. "Extremely classy by the Steinbrenners, the Yankees organization. I never thought about a year ago that I would be getting any ceremonies, that's for sure. There was a thought that maybe I wasn't going to play baseball ever again. To be celebrated at home, I'm just honored and flattered."
Rodriguez' performance this season no doubt played a big part in his reconciliation with the front office. A-Rod, who turned 40 earlier this season, is batting .268 and is second on the team in home runs (24), third in RBI (63) and second in OPS (.882).
"I think it certainly shows how far he’s come, how far we’ve come," said Cashman, who made the trip to Toronto to witness this pivotal series. "Mistakes can happen, and you can move past it over time. What he has accomplished on the field is pretty special. You can’t argue with the amount of hits he’s put together over the course of his career. It’s an amazing accomplishment."
The Yankees will be playing the Blue Jays on Sept. 13 as well, and perhaps not coincidentally, the ceremony happens to take place on Week 1 of the NFL season, when even the eyes of New Yorkers are likely to be diverted away from Yankee Stadium.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who is all about team harmony, opted not to get involved in the timing of the event or the reasons for its existence.
"It’s a good thing. I think it’s a good thing," he said. "All relationships are going to have rocky moments, and you like to see things get righted and repaired. I think both sides have made a lot of gestures to do that, so I think it’s a good thing."