It has been 500 days since Alex Rodriguez played his last major league game for the New York Yankees, his image destroyed in the wake his suspension for the 2014 season as a result of the Biogenesis scandal and subsequent failed attempt at an appeal in which he attacked both baseball and the Yankees’ front office. With his return on the horizon Rodriguez’ Mea Culpa Tour has seen him visit with new Commission of Baseball Rob Manfred three times over the last month, and a possible face to face meeting with Yankee brass coming in the next week. Rodriguez has a ton of crow to eat after every accusation he made was proved false after his grand jury testimony was released, where he admitted to past use of performance-enhancing drugs after challenging baseball’s investigative unit’s findings (which wound up being obtained through less than legal means) for the better part of two years in public. His admissions also meant he deceived the Yankees themselves when the signed him to a then-record $275 million contract which still has three years and $61 million remaining, with another $30 million in home run related performance bonuses. The bonuses, given due the Yankees’ then-desire to profit of off a “clean” home run champion, are now entirely meaningless with Rodriguez’ reputation in the toilet, not to mention the fact that he probably won’t reach Barry Bonds’ 762, despite him reportedly telling Bonds he will. With his relationship with the Yankees seemingly worse than ever, Rodriguez is set to enter spring training in a position he hasn’t been in since 1995- needing to prove he is still a capable major leaguer with the Yankees having retained Chase Headley for third base, and competition at the designated hitter spot in Garrett Jones and the Yankees other aging veterans who might need a day off from the field (i.e. Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixiera).

His first steps thus far; apologizing to Manfred and his willingness to make amends with the Yankees are steps in the right direction but anyone can admit that Rodriguez is viewed as a pariah at the moment. The Yankees have made no secret about their disdain for the former star, and will likely continue to harbor resent and try to find ways to avoid paying him any part of his contract if they can, unless he comes back and is able to help what was a stagnant offense last season and is relying on a mix of veterans (Beltran, Tex, Brian McCann, Stephen Drew, Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury, and even Brett Gardner) to rebound off of poor years, while bringing in an unproven shortstop to replace Derek Jeter (Didi Gregorius). While he appears to be in good shape and ready for action, before he gets back on the field he has to do more than apologize; he will say the right things in front of Brian Cashman and Randy Levine, plus the hoards of media that will surround him the first day he reports to Tampa, but his words mean nothing at this point.

It’s all been about money for Alex Rodriguez; it’s why he appealed, it’s why he sued the Yankees at one point. As much as it probably will never happen, if Rodriguez hopes to restore any part of his credibility (an almost impossible task at this point), it starts with him voluntarily forfeiting the $30 million in performance bonuses he is able to earn through the next three years. Rodriguez currently has 654 career home runs. He will receive $6 million if he reaches Willie Mays’ mark of 660, and $6 million if he is able to reach 700, 715, 755, 762, and the all-time record of 763. As unlikely as it may be that he reaches most of these marks, its common knowledge at this point that these accomplishments are tainted as a result of his past PED-use, and any marketing and promotional campaigns that might have been associated with him reaching these marks is useless at this point because of his now-tarnished career. As much as lawyer fees have to be a killer for him, Rodriguez has to show how much he wants to be redeemed; he will still make his $61 million for the next three years- can he bring himself to part with $30 million? Even if he might not get all of it anyway? If he doesn’t, does anything he say really mean anything as opposed to an action that would probably be a great start to rebuilding the bridge he torched and showing that maybe, he has changed, if only a little bit.

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