Alex Rodriguez reported to the Yankees' Spring Training camp in Tampa on Thursday. As our Phil Andrews tells us, it's a much different scene for the slugger compared to a year ago.
TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA --- As the Yankees' players lined up for batting practice Thursday, it was number 13, Rodriguez, who received the loudest cheers, proving that, yes, you can come home again.
This time last year, A-Rod was returning from a one-year suspension from MLB for his alleged involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.
"Overall, I just feel so much better coming into this year," Rodriguez, the Yankees' designated hitter, said. "It's certainly liberating to come into this season not carrying all this luggage around me all offseason."
"So, I'm at ease, I'm in a good place, I've worked hard, and my body feels good," he continued. "So I'm going to do exactly what I did last year: see ball, hit ball."
"I think it's probably much more relaxing and uneventful spring training for him," Yankees' manager Joe Girardi said about Rodriguez. "The questions that he had to answer most of spring training, he probably won't be asked, and like anything else it always down to performance."
It was clear that Rodriguez was not only humble in his words Thursday, but also thankful to have been given the opportunity to still play the game he loves, for the team that he loves.
"Look, I'm in a good place. Last year was an extremely challenging situation to come into. A difficult one. I prepared tremendously hard, didn't know what to expect," he said. "But look, I'm coming into this year, I'm not taking anything for granted."
"I'm very hungry to come back. I think this is my 22nd or 23rd spring training. I'm certainly enjoying it. I know 2015 for me was many ways a Cinderella season, and I don't take it for granted," he continued. "I mean, to be able to wear a uniform at the age of 40 — it's pretty cool."
Of course, last year A-Rod surprised everyone with a 33 home run, 86 RBI effort from the DH spot. I'm sure Girardi would love to see a repeat performance this season.