A-Rod confident he will play next year

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic -- While waiting to hear if his 211-game suspension will be upheld by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez remains optimistic that he will be allowed to play next season.

"Yes, I feel confident. I'm preparing as always, working hard. I feel completely healthy, I have the entire offseason to prepare for it," Rodriguez said in Spanish to a group of journalists Saturday at the Punta Espada golf course where David Ortiz is hosting his Celebrity Golf Classic to raise funds to help children with heart problems.

The ruling on A-Rod is expected to be handed down next month.

Rodriguez, 37, played just 44 games this past season after undergoing hip surgery for the second time in his career, batting .244 with seven homers and 19 RBIs.

Rodriguez also said Saturday that it was time to stop focusing on his legal matters.

"We have to get out of this and start talking baseball, about the good things with MLB and about my hard training work to get back in the middle of the Yankees' lineup," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez took time to say that he was happy for former teammate Robinson Cano, who signed a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners this week.

"I'm very happy for Robinson Cano; he's like a little brother of mine," Rodriguez said. "We've talked a lot in the process. Congratulations to him and his family. He is not only a great player but a great human being and big representative of the Dominican Republic."

Information from Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com was used in this report.