NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez faces a diminished role in his return to the New York Yankees, who have stripped A-Rod of his third-base job and plan to limit his role to full-time designated hitter — at most.
General manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday that A-Rod's days as an everyday fielder are over in the Bronx and Chase Headley will start at third after agreeing this week to a $52 million, four-year contract.
Coming off a season-long suspension for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract, Rodriguez will have to compete with Martin Prado for time as Headley's backup at third.
"I can't expect Alex to be anything," Cashman said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I've got to think the worst and hope for the best. Even before the suspension, he wasn't the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side. And that was before the suspension.
"And now he's been out of the game for a year. He's approaching 40 years of age. And just to automatically assume given his circumstances that he'll be able to plug right in, play third as an everyday guy and hold up and be productive, I think that would be dangerous thinking from my perspective, in the seat I'm sitting in."
Rodriguez turns 40 in July and has not played a full season since 2007 because of leg injuries, operations on both hips and the suspension. Cashman said A-Rod will have to prove to manager Joe Girardi he can play the field.
"So given all that circumstance, we look forward to him hopefully solidifying himself as a tremendous DH for us, and if he shows he has retained athleticism, then he can play third as a choice when Joe decides to give Headley a rest," Cashman said. "He can compete for Joe's thought process, whether it's Prado swinging over or Alex playing third."
Cashman said he has not spoken with Rodriguez about his new role.
"I don't need to. I've been very consistent with my conversations publicly from October on," he said. "I have not heard from Alex on any of that, and I know he reads all this stuff."
Rodriguez is owed $61 million by the Yankees in the final three seasons of his contract, and New York could use improvement at DH — its players there combined to hit .230 this year (12th in the AL) with 18 homers (11th), 63 RBIs (13th), a .290 on-base percentage (14th) and a .372 slugging percentage (12th), according to STATS.
Acquired from San Diego in July, Headley convinced the Yankees to keep him. He will get $13 million each year and the chance to earn an additional $1 million annually in performance bonuses based on plate appearances. He would receive a one-time $1 million assignment bonus if traded.
"We measure a lot of different things on the hitting analytics as well as our scouting assessments of him," Cashman said. "He's got plate discipline. He's got power. ... We like his leadership. We like his abilities. We think he's an exceptional defender."
Headley hit .229 with seven homers and 32 RBIs last season for the Padres and .262 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 191 at-bats for New York. His offense improved after a herniated disk in his back was treated with an epidural injection June 20.
"If the back rears its ugly head, we know the process necessary to deal with that. So it was a risk that we felt worth taking," Cashman said.
New York anticipates Headley, a 2012 Gold Glove winner, will be joined in the infield most days by Didi Gregorius at shortstop, Prado at second and Mark Teixeira at first.
"We believe we now have a very strong defensive infield," Cashman said, "that will serve our pitching staff and our run prevention well."
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Five weeks removed from the San Diego practice squad, Ryan Lindley will start at quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals against Seattle Sunday night.
Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision Monday following the team's practice, with experience the deciding factor in choosing Lindley over rookie Logan Thomas in what figures to be the biggest game of the Cardinals' season.
Arians said he will have a package for Thomas in the game plan and both quarterbacks might see action.
Lindley came on in relief when Drew Stanton went down with a knee injury in Thursday night's 12-6 victory at St. Louis.
Asked what he said to Lindley when he told him he'd start against Seattle, Arians said, "Go sling it baby. Go have fun. You're here for a reason. You're only on this team because you're talented enough to be here. You have everything it takes to win the game."
The stakes for Sunday night's game are enormous.
The Cardinals, a playoff berth already assured, can clinch the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed with a win. That would mean all potential playoff games would be at home, including the Super Bowl, since it's to be played at University of Phoenix Stadium
A loss would leave the teams tied for first in the NFC West, with Seattle holding the tiebreaker by virtue of two wins over Arizona. If the teams were still tied at the end of the regular season the following week, Arizona would be relegated to a wild card berth.
"Knowing that we're in, there's some comfort," Arians said, "but knowing what's at stake, we don't want to travel to play."
With their quarterback issues, the Cardinals are 7½-point underdogs at home against the Seahawks.
Arians said he could care less what others think about this game.
"The only one that needs to believe is that locker room," he said, "and they believe it. They saw it on the practice field today, and they'll see it all week. Like I said, it's easy to be written off. We've been written off all year."
Arizona is 7-0 at home this season and 13-2 since Arians arrived.
Stanton's sprained right knee is the latest in a long list of injuries that have hit the team.
Arians estimated Stanton would be back in two to four weeks. The quarterback was riding an exercise bike in the brief portion of practice open to reporters.
Stanton took over as starter after Carson Palmer went down with a season-ending knee injury, also against St. Louis, on Nov. 9. Two days later, Arizona signed Lindley off the Chargers practice squad.
Lindley was Arizona's No. 3 quarterback, behind Palmer and Stanton, last season.
But the team drafted Thomas in the fourth round and he took the No. 3 spot from Lindley in the preseason.
Now, Thomas finds himself playing behind the quarterback he had beaten out.
"Obviously, you've got to be a little disappointed," he said. "You've waited your entire time to be that person. I understand completely that it's Ryan's time, Ryan's turn, whatever it may be, but I'll be the No. 1 fan and then when it's my turn I've got to make my plays."
Lindley was not in the locker room when reporters were allowed there on Monday.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu practiced and is expected to play after missing two games with a broken thumb. He will play with a cast.
"I wasn't going to miss this one," he said.
Notes: The Cardinals signed quarterback Jeff Mathews to the practice squad. An undrafted rookie from Cornell, Mathews had been on the Indianapolis practice squad before he was released on Sept. 9. To make room, Arizona released linebacker Kion Wilson from the practice squad. ... Arians said guard Paul Fanaika, who had been sidelined with a sprained ankle, practiced. However, Arians would not say whether Fanaika would be back in the starting lineup.
The Cardinals will be playing postseason football for the first time since 2009.Arizona officially clinched a playoff spot after the Cowboys defeated the Eagles 38-27 on Sunday night.Bruce Arians' team has been decimated with injuries the whole season, but Arizona has found a way to win close games behind a stifling defense, exhibited in Thursday's 12-6 win over the Rams on the road in St. Louis.Since the Cards won their contest against the Rams, all they needed to ensure a postseason berth was for the Dallas-Philly tilt to not end in a tie.According to the Cardinals public relations department, Arizona is the first team to book a postseason ticket in a Super Bowl-hosting season since the 2000 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.