Whether he personally had a hand in it or not, two of the biggest questions surrounding Alex Rodriguez were put to bed Friday when the Yankees came to agreements with the slugger on his home run milestone bonus and Zack Hample, the ballhawk who snagged A-Rod’s 3,000th hit ball two weeks ago.
The Hample agreement was announced first, with the Yankees agreeing to donate $150,000 to Pitch In For Baseball, a charity Hample has supported over the past few years, which donates equipment to kids looking to get into the sport.
“I think it’s a wonderful gesture on the Yankees’ part to really go to work and get the 3,000th hit for Alex,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Before the game, the Major League Baseball Players Association announced that the Yankees and Rodriguez had come to agreement on the home run milestone bonus money Rodriguez was due to receive when he hit career No. 660 earlier this season.
Rodriguez stood to make $6 million for tying Willie Mays on the all-time home runs list, but the Yankees said the money was contingent on the marketability of the milestone. Due to A-Rod’s noted past with performance-enhancing drugs, the team did not deem the milestone marketable and held out on paying Rodriguez.
The team will pay a total $3.5 million spread out to various charities. Pitch In For Baseball, the Wounded Warrior Foundation, and the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa will share $1 million of the donations. The MLB Urban Youth Foundation will receive the other $2.5 million, which will be used to “further programs and initiatives aimed at increasing youth participation in baseball, particularly in urban areas,” according to the release.
Girardi shared his sentiments on the team’s settlement with Rodriguez as he did with the Hample settlement, calling it a “wonderful gesture” on both parts. Girardi alluded that these two agreements being a way of putting the water under the bridge between the team and Rodriguez.
“Relationships that get strained in life are really meant to get fixed again,” he said. “A lot of times when you get to the other side in those struggles that you have, the relationship can be stronger than ever.”
• Carlos Beltran was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique. “It just puts you in somewhat of a difficult position,” Girardi said. “If we were to test it and make it worse; if we were to just have him hit left-handed, everyone would possibly bring in a reliever when it was his turn and then you gotta make a switch.
“We had concerns about him trying to throw, so we thought it was best to give him this time off, especially with the off days we have and the All-Star break, we’re trying to take advantage of it.
• With Beltran heading to the DL, the Yankees now have outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury, Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams out of commission, with Ellsbury’s return highly aniticipated. Girardi wouldn’t give a definitive answer when asked what Ellsbury timetable is, saying repeatedly, “He’ll be ready when he’s ready.”
Girardi joked that he didn’t want to give an exact date because, if Ellsbury is not ready, it will be speculated as a “conspiracy theory.”
• CC Sabathia has been scratched from Sunday’s start and will now start Wednesday, Girardi said. Ivan Nova will make the start Sunday. Sabathia said he physically felt fine, but appeared to be displeased with the decision.
“It’s up to them,” he said. “Whatever they think is best is the schedule that I’m following. … It is what it is.”
Sabathia said he’s going to take the opportunity to “take a step back and look at some things,” during the time off. “It’s good to get a break for body though, for sure,” he said.
• Speaking of Nova, Girardi said that he plans on giving the right-hander an extra day off following Sunday’s start.
“It’s not going to be a factor until maybe we get into a long stretch, and that’s when you’ll have to evaluate it,” Girardi said, referring to Nova’s return from Tommy John surgery. “We’ve chosen to give all our (starting pitchers) that extra day in there.”
• With the scratched start Sunday and an extra day off anticipated for all starters, Sabathia will make only one more start before the break, meaning he could start just once over a 15-day period.
• Chris Young gets the start in left field against Chris Archer, a right-hander, instead of Ramon Flores, who was recalled from Triple-A to take Beltran’s spot on the team. Girardi cited Young’s hot bat and Flores’ travel to the stadium as a reason for the arrangement.
Girardi said he hopes to work in Flores on Friday. Young went on an offensive tear, but is since 1 for his last 9. If he performs poorly at the plate Friday, it’s reasonable to assume Flores could start Saturday with another right-hander (Nathan Karns) expected to start for Tampa Bay.