Despite the best wishes of several baseball writers over the last few days, Alex Rodriguez has no plans to hang up his cleats and is already hard at work on his post-op rehab program.
Less than 24 hours after the news broke, many writers had taken to the virtual streets proclaiming that Rodriguez's career was at an end. Some thought the news would allow the Yankees to void the five years and $114 million left on his contract, others seemingly championed insurance fraud, and one report in particular was very matter-of-fact in its stating that A-Rod would not be returning to the Bronx.
But until now, no one thought to actually ask Rodriguez -- or those close to him -- whether his plans had changed since the PED allegations surfaced. Well, as could probably be expected, they haven't.
A-Rod has no intention of retiring and is hard at work on his hip rehabilitation, report Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPN:
A message to the New York Yankees and their fans from Alex Rodriguez: I'm not going anywhere.
"Alex has no plans at all to retire,'' one source with close, personal ties to the embattled third baseman told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday.
Another source, authorized by Rodriguez to speak on his behalf, passed this along: "Alex says he's working diligently on his rehabilitation and is looking forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible.''
When A-Rod underwent his surgery earlier this month, his doctor found less cartilage damage in his hip than expected. While that does not necessarily guarantee a speedy recovery, it does give him a better chance of returning closer to the expected six-month recovery date in July than if they had been required to regenerate cartilage in depleted areas of the hip.
None of that changes in light of Tuesday's news. Yes, there is still the worst-case scenario that A-Rod will miss the 2013 season, but at no point before or after the surgery did his doctor state that the condition would end Rodriguez's career.
There's no denying that the relationship the Yankees and Rodriguez have is a damaged one, but that does not give the club a free pass to send the third baseman packing. There is specific language in MLB's Joint Drug Agreement that forbids teams from punishing players for drug issues beyond what the league itself has deemed appropriate, and Rodriguez's doctor was very explicit in his statements before the surgery that A-Rod's hip problems were congenital, not steroid-related.
Per Matthews and Marchand, when informed of A-Rod's intent to return, New York GM Brian Cashman responded with just one word: "Good."
Major League Baseball's investigation into the Miami PED clinic is ongoing, and the league is expected to interview all the players implicated in the scandal in the coming weeks. If hard evidence is found, the league has the power to hand out 50-game suspensions to the first-time offenders like Rodriguez, even without a positive test.
Given the expected rate of his rehab, if Rodriguez were suspended at the start of the season, he would carry out the entirety of the suspension while on the disabled list.