With the Yanks in Tampa this week and A-Rod’s arrival at the Yanks’ complex yesterday, yesterday was a great day to check in on the rehabbing slugger. For the most part, A-Rod’s day was largely uneventful. The third baseman played catch, took a bunch of swings and participated in some other baseball activities.
At one point, A-Rod stopped to talk to the gaggle of reporters who gathered to watch him work out. It had, after all, been a while since A-Rod had faced the press, and outside of some gossip about A-Rod’s latest fling, his name hadn’t found its way into the press, bold-faced or otherwise.
There is, it seems, a reason for it. A-Rod is trying to put on his blinders and enact his own version of baseball tunnel vision. “In a funny way,” A-Rod said, “Colorado has been unbelievable. It’s been a blessing in disguise. Not only did I go down there to get my hip fixed, but I also got an opportunity to relax and take a time out to re-think, re-evaluate and re-focus my career and what’s important. It also gives you an opportunity to cut some of the fat. I understand my responsibility and I’m excited to face the challenge.”
There’s an initial tendency to make a lot out of this statement. After all, shouldn’t A-Rod have “cut some of the fat” a long time ago? Shouldn’t he already have baseball blinders on? Does he really need a six-week rehab to gain that tunnel vision focus?
But reality is not that simple. Like the rest of us, A-Rod is human, and over the last year, he’s been through a divorce and some fairly stunning steroid allegations. We expected a man making $280 million to be better than all of that, but it will wear down on A-Rod as much as it would wear down on the rest of us.
For eight months, professional baseball players partake in a grueling game. We call it a marathon and not a sprint, but it’s closer to a slog than anything else. It’s emotionally and physically taxing, and while we sit and enjoy it, the players life out its ups and downs every day.
I appreciate what A-Rod has to say. If he’s truly intent on focusing on just baseball this year — as Selena Roberts’ book comes out, as crowds gear up to boo him — then good for him. But with over 155 games left in the year, that’s a tough claim for anyone to make.