2/24/2014 5:19 P.M. ET
MLBPA, A-Rod moving forward on good terms
Union chief Clark expects suspended slugger to return to Yanks in '15
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez won't play for the Yankees in 2014, but he is once again a member in good standing with the Major League Baseball Players Association, new executive director Tony Clark said Monday.
Clark expects Rodriguez to serve his 162-game suspension and return to the Yankees in 2015, and he doesn't anticipate any retribution from Rodriguez's fellow players.
Rodriguez withdrew his lawsuits against the Players Association and Major League Baseball earlier this month after appealing his initial 211-game suspension. That penalty, for his use of performance-enhancing substances and his involvement with the now-shuttered Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, was dropped to 162 games by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
Clark said he hasn't spoken with Rodriguez, but he doesn't think A-Rod needs to address the issue any further in order to return.
"The page has been turned," said Clark, who stopped by George M. Steinbrenner Field for the MLBPA's annual closed-door meeting with the players in the Yankees' clubhouse and met with reporters for about 20 minutes afterward.
"Our membership is our membership. Alex is a member of the Players Association," Clark said. "He will serve the penalty that he's been given by the arbitrator. He will come back in Spring Training ready to go, wherever that happens to be. He's under contract to the Yankees. I would expect him to be in camp with the Yankees. Am I concerned about anything beyond that? No."
Clark wouldn't comment on anything specific that the MLBPA representatives discussed with the Yankees during Monday's meeting, but he acknowledged that the Biogenesis suspensions and the Joint Drug Agreement were among the topics of conversation.
Clark's predecessor, the late Michael Weiner, said after last year's meeting that he was skeptical of the Yankees' goal to keep their 2014 payroll under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. Clark said he was pleased to see that Weiner, a close friend, was right as the Yankees went on an offseason spending spree to bolster their roster.
"We always like to see clubs making decisions that they inevitably feel are going to help them be the last team standing," Clark said. "Obviously the New York Yankees are a special group, and them continuing to make decisions that they hope are going to have them be the last team standing, we always enjoy seeing, as we do with a lot of other teams who are interested in being that final team."
Girardi, an ex-catcher, applauds collision rule
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi is on board with the new rule regarding collisions at home plate.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced on Monday the addition of Rule 7.13, covering home-plate collisions, on an experimental basis for the 2014 season. The rule will "prohibit the most egregious collisions at home plate," according to an MLB statement.
Keeping players healthy should be the priority, said Girardi, a former catcher.
"I think the way the rule was originally written, players weren't sure if they'd be able to adapt quick enough to it, so they made some tweaks to it. I think it's a pretty good rule. The biggest thing is, if you have a place to slide, you really need to slide," he said. "We don't want any of these unnecessary collisions because we want our players on the field, and we don't want the health issues to come back and haunt players 10, 20, 30 years from now. We just don't. Some of it's right away.
"I think it's a good rule, and I think it's a really good step in the right direction."
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, who was in Tampa on Monday to meet with the players, said he's spent a lot of time at various camps discussing the new rule with catchers to get a sense of how they feel about it.
"It's in large part what has been part of the challenge, making sure that something can be put together that guys can appreciate, understand, interpret and apply while also taking into account and respecting the fact that the game, for a lot of these guys, has been played one way with one mindset and one focal point. That doesn't change overnight," Clark said. "A lot of that comes into play with the rule itself is perhaps looking to change some habits. That's going to take time. And if you try to incorporate all kinds of moving pieces into something that's going to take some time with respect to habits to change, you're going to put guys in harm's way.
"That's been our focus, getting input from all the guys who are willing to offer it, both young guys, old guys, starters, guys that may be starters on any one given day, but making sure that we understand exactly where the guys are coming from and then putting something together that makes sense. Again, should we need to, we can adjust going forward. Should we need to scrap, we can do so. Should we need to continue to build out, we can do that as well."
Facing 'long road,' Bailey happy to land with Yanks
TAMPA, Fla. -- Newly signed reliever Andrew Bailey is trying to look at his Minor League contract with the Yankees as a two-year deal, even though it's really a one-year pact with an option. But that doesn't mean he's given up hope on 2014 just yet.
Bailey, the former A's closer who is recovering from serious shoulder surgery, reported to George M. Steinbrenner Field on Monday. The 29-year-old is playing catch from 120 feet and is seven months into a 12-month rehab process, ideally putting him in line to return to the Majors down the stretch this season.
"The timetable and all that kind of stuff, I'm not going to rush it. I'm going to do it right. I've rushed injuries in the past, and I know how that works out," Bailey said. "This one especially, this is something where if it gets hurt again, and that capsule, it doesn't look great.
"I've got to do it right. Everything's going great right now, and I have a full expectation to pitch this year."
Bailey will be spending much more time rehabbing in Florida, even after the Yankees head north for the regular season. Still, the Voorhees, N.J., native said it's "something special" to put on the Yankees' pinstripes.
"I think it's a good opportunity for me, and obviously if I get back to being myself, helping this team win another championship is what it's about. ... Having guys of this stature to be able to talk to, and understand the process, and go through it, was really important to me. I valued that.
"Still a long road, but I'm in a great spot, with a great opportunity, with a great organization that knows what's ahead and is willing to walk that road with me."
Gardner's deal fortifies outfield for near future
TAMPA, Fla. -- News broke Sunday of Brett Gardner's four-year, $52 million extension from 2015-18, with a $12.5 million club option or $2 million buyout for the 2019 season, and the Yankees made it official Monday by announcing the deal.
Drafted and developed by the Yankees, Gardner will remain in pinstripes for the forseeable future after finding himself at the center of trade rumors throughout the winter.
"Excited. I like what he brings to the table, offensively, defensively and just his clubhouse presence. I like it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The way he plays the game, he's a grinder."
With Gardner locked up until at least 2018, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury signed through 2020 with a '21 club option and right fielder Carlos Beltran on board for the next three years, it's hard to see any room opening up in the Yankees' outfield any time soon.
Of course, Beltran could wind up getting at-bats as the club's designated hitter some time during the life of his contract, which is part of the reason Girardi wasn't worried about a potential logjam.
"I think you go year by year. I don't think you can necessarily predict exactly what's going to happen over time," Girardi said. "Obviously those are three quality outfielders that you have, and if you put in the other two that we have, we have a pretty good corps of outfielders right now."
Girardi gave a similar answer when asked where Ichiro Suzuki now finds himself in the Yankees' outfield picture.
"We signed a number of outfielders as free agents, and things have a way of working themselves out in Spring Training, and exactly how he fits in right now I can't tell you," Girardi said. "My job is to keep everyone fresh, healthy and contributing, and I'll have to figure that out."
• The Yankees set out for their annual team-bonding trip Monday morning, and it was a familiar one. As they did in 2009, the Yankees took part in a pool tournament. Manager Joe Girardi joked that the pool-hall outing will become a Spring Training staple if this season ends the same way '09 did.
"I think it's a great opportunity for guys to bond off the field a little bit, get to know each other," Girardi said. "You try to set it up where they're working with people they might work with during the season and they're working with people where we're not sure that they'll work with during the season."
• Outfielder/designated hitter Alfonso Soriano (flu) told Girardi he was feeling much better as he reported to the Yankees' clubhouse Monday morning. Soriano was scheduled to do some light work in the weight room and hit in the batting cage. Since he hasn't worked out with the team this spring, Girardi said, Soriano will be held back a bit as games begin Tuesday.
• Girardi said outfielder Brett Gardner, catcher Francisco Cervelli and infielder Kelly Johnson should be among the everyday players taking the field for Tuesday's 1:05 p.m. ET exhibition game against Florida State University. Left-hander Vidal Nuno is scheduled to start for the Yankees.
• The most scrutinized player on the field Tuesday might not play for the Yankees, though. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, also an outfielder and reliever, has piqued Girardi's interest as well.
"It'll be fun," Girardi said. "Obviously he's extremely athletic. When you watch him play the game of football, he's got a great arm. He's pretty mature for his age, as an athlete and what he had to go through and handle, and I'm excited to see him."
• Infielder Scott Sizemore, recovering from a torn left ACL, likely won't begin playing in Spring Training games until the end of the week or the beginning of next week.