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Yankees manager Joe Girardi claims to be excited about Alex Rodriguez’s return

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In a pronouncement that likely has as much to do with doing some preemptive damage control — something he’d better get used to doing — New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi insisted to reporters that he is excited about Alex Rodriguez’s return from a season-long suspension.

Girardi, who spent a majority of his 14 minutes meeting with media at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday discussing Rodriguez, reportedly claims that he has been in frequent contact with A-Rod via phone calls, texts and emails, per an ESPN.com report. When asked by reporters if he is looking forward to seeing Rodriguez at spring training, Girardi responded in the affirmative.

“I am,” said Girardi, who also said he may schedule a meeting with Rodriguez this winter. “When Alex has walked into camp, when hasn’t there been a lot of attention on him over the last five years?

“There is going to be attention. Some of it is going to be negative. Some of it is going to be positive. We’ll deal with it. I know there is going to be a lot of attention the first week [of spring training] and then everyone sort of disperses and covers other stories around the country. We’ll have to deal with a lot in the beginning, but it will spread around the country. It always does.”

Despite being one of the most despised athletes in professional sports, Girardi nevertheless believes Rodriguez does not need to make amends to anyone, even in light of the recent report that alleges A-Rod admitted to using PEDs to the Drug Enforcement Administration, not to mention his many other transgressions, things that have transformed Rodriguez into a baseball-playing villain of sorts.

“We live in a forgiving world in the sports world,” said Girardi. “It is something we live in. His job, his main concern, just has to be getting prepared to play and just doing his job. That’s what he needs to do.”

How well Rodriguez will be able to accomplish that in what likely will be extremely hostile environments on the road — and possibly even inside Yankee Stadium — remains to be seen. The Yankees still owe Rodriguez an enormous amount of money in the next few seasons, a total of $60 million over the next three years, through 2017. Chances are the Yankees are hoping that the team will at least get something out of its monumental remaining financial investment.

Otherwise, why would Girardi actually say he’s excited over A-Rod’s return? It is a savvy demonstration of sage posturing at best, a complete misrepresentation at worst. The distractions, the controversy, everything that goes along with having Rodridguez on the team has to be more than a significant annoyance, and that’s with him producing at the plate, something that is not guaranteed after a year away from the game and A-Rod’s advancing age.

(photo credit: Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News)