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Klapisch: Yanks bracing for worst when it comes to CC Sabathia — February 28, 2015

Klapisch: Yanks bracing for worst when it comes to CC Sabathia



The Yankees are taking a cautious approach this spring with CC Sabathia, who will wear a knee brace when he pitches.

TAMPA, Fla. — CC Sabathia was wearing a brace on his troubled right knee Friday, raising the eyebrows from those who wonder just how much the Yankees can depend on the big man this season. In fact, not only did Sabathia use the brace during an early-morning bullpen session, he plans to keep it on whenever he takes the mound in 2015.

Code red? Not exactly.

Sabathia – and the Yankees – say there’s nothing amiss here, that it’s just a veteran pitcher being cautious following off-season surgery. Fair enough. But no one’s expectations are particularly robust when it comes to the soon-to-be 35-year old left-hander, who just happened to gain 10 pounds this winter and now rocks the scales at 305.

Let’s repeat: Sabathia has a degenerative knee condition, which is another way of saying his cartilage is wearing down. He’s in the early stages of arthritis, which could conceivably end his career before his contract expires in 2017. Surgery, PRP shots and anti-inflammatory medication are all stopgap measures — they may or may not work over the long haul. No one knows if Sabathia will be one of the lucky ones who responds to treatment.

That’s why the Yankees are being extremely cautious, and have yet to pencil Sabathia into the spring training rotation.

“We have to see how he responds. … I haven’t put together a normal schedule yet,” said pitching coach Larry Rothschild. “You have to be reticent, we’re just trying to be smart. If you watch him throw, it doesn’t look like he’s having any trouble, but you want to keep it that way.”

Sabathia made sure to say he feels fine – so far. His bullpen session, the third so far in camp, went smoothly, and he’ll soon graduate to live batting practice in the next few days. The knee brace was his idea, fully endorsed by Joe Girardi who said, “Whatever CC needs to do to feel comfortable [is OK].”

All this matters because the Yankees can’t say for sure if Sabathia can be counted on for even 10 wins and 20 starts, let alone 30. When Girardi says, “We’re taking it slow with him” it means Sabathia might not pitch in the Grapefruit League until mid-March, which would put his spot in the rotation in question the first week of the regular season.

The Bombers are being equally conservative with Masahiro Tanaka, who’ll miss the first week of the exhibition season. Assuming he starts March 9-10, Tanaka would get five starts before opening day, the bare minimum, although Girardi nevertheless says Tanaka “is on schedule” to start against the Blue Jays on April 6 in the Bronx.

These are only minor blips, of course. No one’s hurt, no one’s suffered any significant setbacks. But the Yankees’ rotation represents their weakest link – until proven otherwise, not one of Girardi’s starters can be counted on for 200 healthy innings.

So when Sabathia says he’ll be relying on a brace from now on, it’s just one more asterisk on a scouting report that already says: Possible danger ahead.

Yankees’ Garrett Jones acknowledges Alex Rodriguez competition, hopes to maintain swing —

Yankees’ Garrett Jones acknowledges Alex Rodriguez competition, hopes to maintain swing

garrett  jones

Yankees first baseman Garrett Jones.

By Brendan Kuty

TAMPA, Fla. — Garrett Jones has two things in mind in his first Yankees‘ spring training:

1) Keep the competition with Alex Rodriguez friendly.

2) To maintain the good habits at the plate he lost at times last season with the Marlins.

“I’m just excited to get a fresh start and get back to doing what I know I can do,” Jones said standing in front of his locker in the George M. Steinbrenner Field clubhouse Friday.

For Jones, wearing pinstripes marks a sort of turning point in his career. The Yankees acquired Jones as part of a bigger deal to net promising starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and pitching prospect Domingo German from Miami in exchange for pitcher David Phelps and infielder Martin Prado on Dec. 19.

While Eovaldi was inarguably the prize of the deal from the Yankees’ standpoint, Jones was no throw-in. In the 34-year-old Jones, the Yankees will have a legitimate backup for first baseman Mark Teixeira. They needed one desperately in 2014 as Teixeria was banged up all season, but were hamstrung due to their roster’s construction.

Teixeira swears he’s healthier heading into 2015, and Yankees officials are banking on him getting most of the action at first base. But Jones will be around as a more-than-capable substitute. That was mostly his position for Miami in 2014.

But, perhaps more than anything, the Yankees might need Jones, a lefty swinger, to take designated hitter at bats against right-handed pitchers. After all, Jones has hit righties at a .267 clip in his career, compared to .197 against lefties. He’s almost got five times as many career at-bats vs. righties.

If that happens, however, it will be at the expense of one of the game’s greatest — and most tainted — players: A-Rod.

Rodriguez is attempting to return after his 162-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. And while manager Joe Girardi has said that he hopes A-Rod can be their starting DH, it’s an unlikely ask for the 39-year-old who hasn’t played since 2013 and is coming off two major hip surgeries.

“Yeah, I’ve sat back a little bit (and thought about it),” Jones said. “We’re going to be — for at-bats — in a competition.”

He also said he respects Rodriguez’s skills: “When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best.”

But, Jones said, “in a perfect world,” both he and A-Rod are swinging the bat well and helping the Yankees win.

“That’s what it comes down to,” Jones said. “When he’s getting his opportunity, he’ll do his thing. And when I’m getting my opportunity, I’m going to do what I do. In a perfect world, we’re both swinging the beat well and we’re both in their on a regular basis.”

Another “perfect world” scenario for Jones? That he starts where he left off with the Marlins.

Jones felt like he started and ended last season well, and the numbers don’t lie. He was hitting .263 with 10 homers through June. Then he slumped big-time. July? A .227 batting average, one homer. August? Even worse. That month, he hit .184 with two bombs. But he turned it around in September, hitting .265 with two homers.

What happened? In Jones’ first season in Miami, the cavernous Marlins Stadium affected his approach, he said.

“It can mess with you,” Jones said. “As a hitter, do I need to do extra? Do I need to change my swing? Do I not have as much power as I used to? A lot of things are going through your head. You try to not let it bother you but for a guy that’s supposed to be driving the ball and having home runs, it’s part of my game. … I was trying to pull everything and it turned getting around too much on the ball and I just lost. I was getting pounded (with) sinkers away and I lost that approach to drive the ball to left-center.”

Jones got the feeling back late in the season. But by then it was too late.

“By that time the numbers were already down and I didn’t have enough at-bats to bounce back and they were playing some other guys at first,” Jones said. “It was frustrating. But I know what I need to do now and I need to stick with what I know to be consistent.”

And Jones can’t wait to do that. He also said he’s looking forward, a lefty power hitter, to getting to target Yankee Stadium’s short porch.

“That’s kind of my game,” Jones said. “Driving the ball. Doubles, homers, gap-to-gap (hitting). It’s nice to know as a hitter that I’m not going to be trying to hit everything out of the park. It’s nice to know that you get one decent and it still could go out. It’s just an extra bonus for a hitter like myself.”

Klapisch: Yanks should closely monitor Tanaka’s arm — February 27, 2015

Klapisch: Yanks should closely monitor Tanaka’s arm



Masahiro Tanaka may have rolled the dice by not electing to have surgery in the off season.

TAMPA, Fla. — Even without the filter of a translator, Masahiro Tanaka isn’t much for introspection, so questions about his torn ligament are met with short answers and the thousand-yard stare of someone who’d rather change the subject.

The stoicism makes perfect sense, of course. Tanaka didn’t become one of Japan’s greatest pitchers by worrying about the unknown. Still, he might be the only one in the organization who isn’t sweating. Every conversational road begins and ends with Tanaka’s elbow and how long he can keep pitching without blowing out his UCL.

No one knows, which is why Tanaka is beyond the reach of pitch-by-pitch anxiety. “All I know that I have no pain,” he said Wednesday, repeating an assurance that’s offered up every 24 hours.

Everyone asks — from reporters, to the coaching and medical staffs, all the way up to manager Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman. There are a million reasons to think Tanaka is living on borrowed time, but that hasn’t stopped him from gradually increasing his arm speed in camp and renewing his faith in the split-finger fastball, the very pitch that may have caused his injury.

There’s no medical consensus on that, whether the splitter’s wide grip between the index and middle fingers can traumatize an elbow over time. Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said, “We don’t believe that” and Tanaka himself said, “I really doubt it [the pitch] was a factor.”

But plenty of smart baseball people feel differently, including Ron Darling, who was heavily reliant on the splitter back in the 1980s. The right-hander spent an entire summer in the minors jamming a softball between his second and third fingers; that’s how important it was to stretch out his hand before the call-up to the Mets in 1983.

But Darling eventually paid the price, losing his fastball at age 28 and living in so much pain today he plays golf left-handed.

“Just spread your first two fingers as wide as you can and you can feel the flexor muscle in your forearm react,” Darling told the Daily News recently. “Now imagine shoving a baseball between those fingers and throwing it as hard as you can, and you get a sense of strain it causes.”

Darling had this to say about Tanaka, specifically: His splitter is the game’s best since Mike Scott’s in 1986. And putting off Tommy John surgery is a “gamble.”

The good news, though, is in the MRIs taken over the winter. They showed no additional rupture, which means months of rehab, including plasma-rich platelet shots and anti-inflammatory medication, have worked. Tanaka’s arm is exactly as it was last summer, minus the pain.

“When I first injured it, it felt bad enough that I knew I couldn’t pitch every fifth day anymore,” he said. Now, however, Tanaka is working alongside the rest of the Yankees’ hurlers, doing the same drills, preparing to take the ball on opening day.

To say the Yankees need Tanaka to stay healthy is only the G-rated version of their dependency. Without him, they’re looking squarely at the possibility of a 90-loss season. The Bombers don’t have a single starter who they can count on for 200 effective, injury-free innings. Life without Tanaka is too dark a thought for team officials to contemplate.

That’s why Girardi chooses to see his ace through the brightest possible prism. “He’s looked great so far, he hasn’t been holding back at all,” the manager said.

There’s plenty to like about a pain-free Tanaka, given his 12-3 start last year, including a 2.27 ERA, 130 strikeouts and only 18 walks. Opposing hitters weren’t just uncomfortable against Tanaka’s splitters, they were overwhelmed by the fierce, late break. That’s because of how hard he threw the pitch and how much arm speed he was able to generate.

So what happens when it’s time for Tanaka to reach back for one of those monster splitters in April — say, against David Ortiz in a jam? It’s one thing for Tanaka to excel in a controlled environment in camp, or even during the exhibition season when nothing matters. But let’s wait until Tanaka’s adrenaline surges and he’s suddenly amping up that splitter at 90 mph. That’s when the clock starts ticking for real.

Hand on his heart, Tanaka says he is unafraid of living with that partial tear, even if a tough guy like Matt Harvey, who had a similar small rupture in 2013, admitted he couldn’t bear the uncertainty.

The Mets’ ace kept imagining blowing out his elbow with every start, which is why he finally surrendered to reconstructive surgery. Tanaka says, “that’s not my choice,” as he soldiers on.

Brave man. But Tanaka is also smart enough to know rehab hasn’t exactly repaired his elbow. The areas surrounding the tear are stronger, but the rupture itself remains. Only surgery can guarantee Tanaka 100 percent stability in his elbow, if not complete peace of mind.

Not that Tanaka would ever cop to a moment of doubt. He’s ready for war, baseball jammed deeply between his fingers, deferring to the fates. They’ll decide what comes next.

Yankees’ Mark Teixeira plans unconventional way to beat defensive shifts — February 26, 2015

Yankees’ Mark Teixeira plans unconventional way to beat defensive shifts


Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.

TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has suffered over recent years. The powerful lefty has seen defenses shift to his pull side, robbing him of potential hits.

On Wednesday, Teixeira said he had a plan to beat the shift. But it wasn’t the most conventional approach.

“Hit more home runs, hit more doubles, and walk more,” the first baseman told reporters in the George M. Steinbrenner Field clubhouse.

In other words, Teixeria wants to beat the shift with brute strength rather than by trying to hit the ball to all fields.

That approach, Teixeira said, would rob him of his natural strength — his ability to crush balls into the right-field seats — and play into a defense’s wishes. Purposely the ball the other way, Teixeira said, would mean weaker hits to the other side.

“We’ve talked about it ad nauseam,” he said. “Every time I try to slap the ball the other way, it doesn’t go well for anybody. That’s what the other team wants. They want to take a middle-of-the-order power hitter and turn him into a slap hitter.

“So if I can hit more home runs, more doubles, walk more, that takes care of the shift. I don’t want to ground out to second base. That’s not what I’m trying to do up there.”

That sentiment appears in line with manager Joe Girardi’s view on attacking defensive shifts, which have also taken away hits from catcher Brian McCann and second baseman Stephen Drew, both lefties. The manager said he won’t be approaching players and “asking you to be something you’re not.”

“We’ve talked about it as an organization,” Joe Girardi said. “We will discuss things with players. This is the adjustment defenses have made, and we need to make (offensive) adjustments too … I’m not going to ask you to do something that you’re not comfortable doing, but it’s something that we need to have discussions about and see how we attack it.”

New hitting coach Jeff Pentland said that while it’s important for players try try to use all fields, they can’t “force things.”

“Obviously the ability to use the whole field is important,” said Pentland, who replaced Kevin Long this offseason. “I’m not going to stand here and tell you we’re going to try to force things through the infield or through the shift. We’ve still got to go up there and hit the ball, but there are things we’ll spend time on.”

Why Ichiro is glad to be a Marlin — and away from Joe Girardi — February 25, 2015

Why Ichiro is glad to be a Marlin — and away from Joe Girardi

By Kevin Kernan


Ichiro Suzuki and Yankees manager Joe Girardi

JUPITER, Fla. — Ichiro Suzuki is a proud man. At the age of 41, he is looking for a fresh start with a young, exciting team.

Don’t count the old man out.

A smiling Ichiro went through his first official workout with Miami on Tuesday. He is thrilled to be a Marlin, and although Ichiro will not say it, for he is much too polite and professional, he is happy to be away from Joe Girardi as his manager.

Ichiro was sometimes perplexed by the way he was used by Girardi. Hard lessons were learned in his time with the Yankees. Ichiro said he grew as a person.

“The experiences that I was able to go through,’’ a thoughtful Ichiro told The Post through interpreter Allen Turner in a hallway outside the visiting clubhouse at Roger Dean Stadium, “things that I couldn’t do anything about, a lot of things happened, and I just had to deal with it and be able to move forward.

“It was a great lesson for me to learn and I was able to go through that. If things happened that you couldn’t control and didn’t like, if you let that affect you and cut things off emotionally and mentally, you can’t do that, you’ve got to keep going.

“That was something I had to overcome.’’

Ichiro overcame it and earned another major league contract for $2 million with the Marlins, batting .284 with the Yankees last season over 359 at-bats with a .324 on-base percentage. The Marlins have treated him warmly, he said, in every way.

I asked Ichiro if he has had any recent contact with Girardi. He laughed and chided me — ever so politely — for the question.

Yes, Ichiro has moved on — along with his 4,122 hits over the course of his career in Japan and the majors. Ichiro needs 156 hits to reach 3,000 major league hits. Pete Rose is the majors all-time hit leader with 4,256.

Ichiro collected his 3,999th hit of his combined career on Aug. 20, 2013, at Yankee Stadium in the first game of a doubleheader against the Blue Jays.

Ichiro was hoping to play in that second game to reach the milestone and get the moment out of the way, but was only used as a pinch runner in that game.

“That was difficult,’’ a friend of Ichiro’s said.

Move on. Ichiro collected a single his first at-bat in the next game to reach 4,000 hits. There were other moves like the time Austin Romine, batting .138, replaced Ichiro in the order late in a game the Yankees were losing by one run, even though Ichiro was the Yankees’ hottest hitter at the time and had three hits in the game — including a home run his previous at-bat. But Ichiro moved on, saying at the time, “As a player you just have to accept it.’’

Last year, as Ichiro pointed out, he was the Yankees’ fifth outfielder, so he said he has no problem being the fourth outfielder for the Marlins’ terrific young outfield that features superstar Giancarlo Stanton, 25, Christian Yelich, 23, and Marcell Ozuna, 24.

There were times Girardi last season used minor league journeymen Zelous Wheeler and Antoan Richardson ahead of Ichiro.

Ichiro accepted the good times and bad times and found a way to continue his career.

Through it all, Ichiro deeply respects the game and the history of baseball so much that he said he will donate his personal collection to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

There is still some playing to do.

“I’m very excited,’’ Ichiro said of the Marlins, a team Stanton labeled Tuesday as a playoff team.

“Everybody is treating me like I’m really old,” Ichiro said in his press conference. “But please put me in that group of young guys. I feel young and want to be included in that group.

“I’m 41. I obviously don’t know what my role is right now. I’ll go through camp and find that out. Hopefully it won’t look like I’m using a bat as a cane.”

The Marlins are betting Ichiro will continue to find a way to swing that bat.

Nude photos of Red Sox Pitcher Clay Buchholz’s wife Lindsay Clubine leaked after his phone is hacked —

Nude photos of Red Sox Pitcher Clay Buchholz’s wife Lindsay Clubine leaked after his phone is hacked

A Red Sox pitcher said he was shocked when he was told there was nothing he could do after his phone was hacked and his wife’s nude photographs were leaked.

Clay Buchholz and his wife Lindsay Clubine immediately contacted lawyers after photos she sent him while he was on the road were spread on the internet.

But they were told that, because the source of the leak came from the Netherlands, it would be almost impossible to prosecute the hackers.

Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz said he was shocked when he was told there was nothing he could do after his phone was hacked and his wife Lindsay Clubine’s nude photographs were leaked

Buchholz and Clubine immediately contacted lawyers after photos she sent him while he was on the road were spread on the internet but were told it would be impossible to prosecute

‘It was crazy,’ Buchholz told WEEI. ‘They just told us there wasn’t a lot we could do.’








Yankees’ Andrew Bailey ‘feeling great’, hoping to make Opening Day roster —

Yankees’ Andrew Bailey ‘feeling great’, hoping to make Opening Day roster

Andrew Bailey

Andrew Bailey, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since he was in Boston two years ago, is hoping to make the Yankees’ roster after an 18-month comeback from injury.

By Ryan Hatch

TAMPA, Fla. — Andrew Bailey’s thrown five bullpens this spring, at least two ahead of every other Yankees pitcher. But he’s still a week or two behind.

Coming off major shoulder surgery (July 2013) to repair a torn capsule and damaged labrum in his throwing shoulder, Bailey has yet to throw an inning for New York after playing three years in Oakland and two in Boston. (After failing to make the team in 2014 because of the injury, the Yankees signed Bailey to a minor-league contract in November.) Bailey, with 89 saves to his name, is just hoping to make the Yankees Opening Day roster.

“The doctor gave me 18 to 24 months [recovery] and we’re in that 18th, 19th month,” Bailey said on Tuesday. “I’m here to compete.”

Bailey was a two-time all-star and won Rookie of the Year in 2009 with Oakland. Drafted out of Wagner College (in Staten Island), Bailey owns a career 2.64 ERA with a 12.2 strikeout per 9 innings ratio. On Tuesday he threw his latest bullpen along side CC Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi.

“Everything feels great,” Bailey said. “Everyone around here: the training staff, the coaches, the strength and conditioning coaches [have helped]. I’m a normal guy with some needs. Hopefully we get rid of those needs.”

He laughed. But he said he’s feeling like his old self, and the mobility in his arm’s near 100 percent. “Grinding through last year, you know, a lot of things go through your mind,” he says. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of work to lengthen that out and stretch it out. It feels like you’re throwing in a fishbowl.”

As Bailey threw along side Eovaldi and Sabathia (manager Joe Girardi stood behind all three), a few fans who stood on the above walk-way peered down and asked to no one in particular, “Who’s that number 40?” It was Bailey, of course, who finished throwing 30 pitches including fastballs and off-speed pitches. If nothing else, it shows how far off the baseball radar Bailey’s fallen even among the most diehard Yankee fans.

“Compared to where he was last year, there’s significant improvement,” Girardi said Tuesday afternoon. “His bullpens are a little more spread out than some of the other relievers, but that’s on purpose right now. Our hope is that we can catch him up and keep him healthy.”

Bailey says he’ll likely throw to live batters early next week. “You usually get what, 10 or 12 appearances in [during spring training],” Bailey said. “I’ll probably be able to get from five to eight to 10. Hopefully that’s enough.”

If it’s enough, Yankee fans will surely know who No. 40 is come April.

Yankees’ CC Sabathia gained how much weight? — February 21, 2015

Yankees’ CC Sabathia gained how much weight?


Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia throws his first bullpen session of spring training on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015.

By Brendan Kuty

TAMPA, Fla. — When CC Sabathia was at his best, the lefty was among the biggest players in the game. And not just in popularity, but size. Sabathia would routinely pack more than 300 pounds onto his 6-foot-7 frame, his belly protruding well over his belt.

But in 2013, concerned about his health, Sabathia showed up to Yankees spring training looking relatively svelte at 275 pounds. He promptly had the worst season of his career, his ERA ballooning to 4.78 as he went 14-13. Things didn’t get better in 2014, either, as his campaign was ravaged by degenerative knee condition that limited him to just eight starts.

An offseason an a knee surgery later, Sabathia’s back. Back with the Yankees. And back to being among baseball’s largest hurlers, weighing 305 pounds this spring, he told reporters at George M. Steinbrenner Field Saturday, the first day of pitchers and catchers workouts this spring.

Manager Joe Girardi, however, said he’s not even thinking about Sabathia’s weight.

“Whether he’s 2 pounds heavier or 2 pounds less, I’m not worried about it,” the manager said. “That’s not my concern.”

Sabathia doesn’t appear concerned with his waistline, either.

Instead, he’s more concentrated on his knee, which didn’t appear to give him any problems during a 25-pitch bullpen session Saturday morning. Mixing fastballs with change ups to catcher John Ryan Murphy, Sabathia completed the workout having hardly broken a sweat. It was the first time he’d thrown off a mound since a minor league rehab start in the middle of last season.

Thats good news for the Yankees, who hope he can regain his form as a 200-inning workhorse, even if his drop in fastball velocity over recent years means that he’s no longer a Cy Young-caliber pitcher.

“That’s your hope, that you’ll get 200 innings, (and) 30 or 32 starts out of him,” Girardi said. “But that’s your hope for all your starting pitchers. Pretty sure that’s not going to happen. You’re not going to get 1,000 innings out of your rotation. You take what you can get abad you adjust to it. Our hope is we can get him back to that.”

For his part, Sabathia has been trying to stay healthy, routinely taking platelet-rich plasma injections into his knee, a process aimed at slowing its degenerative condition while working out at Yankee Stadium.

“Just keep up the maintenance and make sure it’s good enough to go out there and play,” he said.

A-Rod, stop trying to get sympathy — you don’t deserve it — February 18, 2015

A-Rod, stop trying to get sympathy — you don’t deserve it

By Ken Davidoff

New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox

Alex Rodriguez, during his one-year banishment from baseball, considered retirement. He underwent therapy. He cursed himself for his decision to jump back into the dangerous waters of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, although he is skeptical that the drugs even worked.


The Yankees’ disgraced slugger exhibited impressive discipline for an extended period, avoiding the media limelight and limiting his public appearances to football games once the official verdict of his 162-game suspension came down last year. But it turns out he didn’t retreat into full radio silence after all.

In recent months, he granted access to J.R. Moehringer, a writer for ESPN The Magazine who wrote a wordy feature on A-Rod’s frenemy Derek Jeter last year for the same publication. The story will be published Wednesday morning.

From the samples released Tuesday by ESPN’s website, it smells like the same public A-Rod that he has sold to us forever: Contemplative, self-examining, self-mocking.

Deep, or at least desperately trying to be so.

“You had pocket aces!” Rodriguez told Moehringer, according to ESPN.com. “Pocket. Aces. And somehow you blew the hand. You could’ve walked away years ago. You could’ve grown a beard, gotten fat, and you’d have had a career to be proud of, and you’d be a lock for the Hall. But no. You had to … had to …”

Of course, it’s not clear at what point “years ago” this would have been. Before his 2009 confession? Before he failed the survey drug test in 2003? If A-Rod laments anything, it should be that he did just a weak job covering his tracks from lowlife and Major League Baseball star witness Anthony Bosch, who — fittingly enough — learned Tuesday he would receive a four-year prison sentence for being the mastermind behind Biogenesis.

And that leads us to our next nugget: A-Rod shared with Moehringer his suspicion Bosch’s drugs were even illegal, as in functional. Rodriguez wondered whether the drugs were placebos.

“Only me,” Rodriguez said. “Only a dope like me would do that stuff and have the two worst statistical seasons of my career.”

Bosch is sleazy enough he could have run low on operational funds and given A-Rod something harmless. More likely, however, is A-Rod put together his two worst statistical seasons because they were his age-35 and -36 campaigns, and he was a guy dealing with one surgically repaired hip and another headed in that direction. And that he would have done worse if not for Bosch’s assistance.

As for his pondering retirement “early” in his suspension, to steal a phrase from the 1980s, gag me with a spoon. We all “consider” stuff all of the time. Was he really going to make the Yankees’ decade and hand back the $61 million they owe him, however? I just don’t see it.

Therapy? Rodriguez courageously admitted back in 2005 he believed in counseling. Good for him that he still is going that route, although I’m not sure it takes a Ph.D. to explain his actions: He is accustomed to getting away with unacceptable behavior, and he is very competitive and insecure.

Let’s not even get into the idea he is “concerned” about telling the whole story to his 10-year-old daughter, Natasha. That’s his business, or at least it should be.

No reason to share that with the public, as he did with Moehringer.

A-Rod’s public statement, which he released Tuesday, was near-perfect: Simple, contrite and also rightly pointing to the fact he served his time and there is no need for any of us to go through a phony-baloney news conference.

He functions best as a villain, not caring what we think of him. He won’t get sympathy from anyone. Too bad for him that it looks like he still wants it.

Yankees’ Eric Chavez excited for scouting job as spring training nears —

Yankees’ Eric Chavez excited for scouting job as spring training nears


By Brendan Kuty

This time last year, Eric Chavez was preparing to play alongside Didi Gregorius with the Diamondbacks. Now, he’s excited again to watch the 24-year-old shortstop fulfill what Chavez believes is a tantalizing future.

“If (Gregorius) can field the ball like I know he’s capable of doing and if he can provide that pop he’s capable of providing,” Chavez said in a phone interview from Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, “he’s going to be really good.”

The only difference? Chavez won’t see Gregorius’ development from third base, a position he manned for 17 major league seasons. Instead, Chavez, in his first season as a Yankees’ special assignment scout, will be hitting the Netherlands product grounders in practice and watching from the stands during spring training games. The Yankees acquired Gregorius in a trade with Arizona in December.

“I’m excited,” Chavez, 37, said. “The next few weeks are going to be huge for me. It’s all new to me.”

Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove winner with Oakland, always knew he wanted to stay in baseball after he retired. In fact, as a member of the Yankees in 2011 and 2012, he talked about it with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Billy Eppler, the assistant GM, from time to time.

So when Chavez abruptly retired in July after just 81 plate appearances with Arizona — the result of serious knee trouble and other lingering injuries — he waited a couple of months and considered his next move. That move? A phone call to Eppler.

“He said, ‘What do you want to do,'” Chavez said. ‘I said, ‘I have no idea.’

“So Billy put something together that will allow me to wear a few different hats this year. I get to see the other side of the game, how management works, how they view coaches and players and just the game in general.”

Chavez — like Eppler, a San Diego native — said he believes he wants to eventually get into coaching.

“On the field — that’s where my passion is,” Chavez said. “But I wanted to be educated and have a good idea of how the other side works and get the best education I can.”

As far as schooling, Chavez appears ready for a crash course. Last fall, the Yankees threw him at the Arizona Fall League, and he cherished the experience to be around young players, he said.

One of those young players who stood out to him? Greg Bird, a 22-year-old first baseman who won the AFL’s MVP after leading the league in homer and runs scored.

“I was thoroughly impressed with his swing and his approach,” Chavez said. “I don’t know how much I’ll get to work with him, but I”m looking forward to seeing his at-bats this spring.”

The time Bird and Chavez spend at big-league spring training together won’t be the last time they see each other, Chavez said. The 2002 Silver Slugger award winner will visit each of the Yankees’ minor league teams throughout the season. Chavez said he’ll spend about a week with each squad and “evaluate them, see what hey can improve on … coaching was kind of big for me.”

So was the time Chavez spent in Cashman’s suite at the Winter Meetings in San Diego in December, Chavez said. There, Chavez was enamored with — and sometimes puzzled by — the lingo getting thrown around the room by Eppler, Cashman and other members of the baseball operations staff.

But Chavez wasn’t there purely to learn. The club leaned his knowledge of players throughout the league while discussing personnel with other teams and agents.

“Sitting in that board room in San Diego was eye-opening,” Chavez said. “How each person was speaking was completely different. And I was looking at pieces of paper and wondering what exactly some things meant.”

That’s the kind of education for which Chavez is yearning, he said. And, while he’s learning, he said he hopes to teach a few things to young players like Gregorius.

“I’ll be there to help keep him comfortable,” Chavez said. “I’m on his side.”