Did Alex Rodriguez retire Friday night? It sure sounded like it

NEW YORK -- A lot of what Alex Rodriguez said in his interview session following his final game with the New York Yankees was boilerplate A-Rod.

He was happy the team won, of course, helped by his RBI double in the first inning. He thanked the fans for their support and thanked manager Joe Girardi for allowing him one more inning -- actually, one more batter -- at third base before he took his final victory lap in the ninth inning.

He cracked a joke about the "Biblical" thunderstorm that chased him and his family, along with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and assorted guests, off the field during an abbreviated pregame ceremony.

He displayed a plastic bag full of dirt he scooped up from third base as a keepsake after the game, and he once again danced around the question of whether this would truly prove to be his last major league game. "I've got to tell you, it's going to be tough to top that," he said. "That's a memory that I will own forever."

He spoke once again about being "at peace" with the Yankees' decision to give him his unconditional release with 47 games left in the season and a mere 19 days before the rosters expand to 40.

But near the end of his 10-minute session, when asked why he seemed so relaxed just moments after having wept when met on the field by his two young daughters, A-Rod delivered what sounded very much like a farewell address.

"I'm relieved," he said. "This game is tough. The fact that I don't have to face guys like Chris Archer and [Dellin] Betances anymore, that's definitely a stress-reliever. I saw Gary Sanchez have a series in Boston, and I looked at him and said, 'I can’t do that anymore.' And I was happy about it. With all the things I've been through, and to have an ending like tonight, I don't know what else a man can ask for."

Of course, anything can change if the phone rings Saturday morning, or next week, or next February, and some team looking for a DH who can hit the ball out of the ballpark decides to take a chance on him, especially since the Yankees will be paying the freight through the end of 2017.

But it is possible that the ending A-Rod wrote for himself Friday night at Yankee Stadium will be enough to send him happily into that good night, even if he is a mere four home runs short of 700. After the news conference, I chased him down to shake his hand, wish him well, and ask him one more question: Did you just retire back there?

"You heard it," he said.

"But I didn't hear you say the word."

"I didn't say it," he said, smiling as he walked off.

Maybe he did, maybe he didn't.

But for the first time all week, Alex Rodriguez, who has insisted all along he can still play major league baseball, sounded as if he no longer wanted to.