Alex Rodriguez answered questions in the Yankee Stadium tunnel for the first time since hip surgery in January, but was positioned so he could make a quick getaway if he wanted to stop responding.
“I love when all these people say, ‘You can’t do this. You can’t do that. You’re done. You’re old,’ ” he explained before New York’s opener against Boston on Monday. “It’s a great challenge to prove all you guys wrong and everyone wrong.”
Three months shy of his 38th birthday, Rodriguez has transformed from three-time Most Valuable Player to most touchy subject. He’s owed $114 million in the remaining five years of his record $275 million, 10-year contract, and he’s viewed by many Yankees fans, and even some in the team’s management, as a drain on the club’s payroll.
Rodriguez said he has heard the same schedule for his return that surgeon Dr. Bryan Kelly made public: sometime around the All-Star break.
“When I found out after the season was over about the big tear in my left hip, it was a bit of a relief to realize and understand how you ended last year,” he said. “Once it’s mended and I’m back to being 100 percent, there’s no reason why I can’t play at a very high level.”
MLB ticket prices up
Major League Baseball’s average ticket price rose 2.7 percent to $27.73 this year for non-premium seats, the steepest rise since a 5 percent hike in 2009, according to the Team Marketing Report.
Last year’s average of $26.92 was up just 1 cent from 2011, the smallest increase in the survey’s 21-year history. The average went up 1.5 percent in 2010 and 1.2 percent in 2011.
The average was $78.38 in the NFL last year. It is $61.01 in the NHL this season and $50.99 in the NBA.
Yankees set record payroll at $230M
The New York Yankees set a record for baseball’s highest opening-day payroll at $230.4 million, almost 10 times what the Houston Astros are paying their players.
After all the talk of spending restraint during the offseason, the Yankees began the season Monday well ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are at $214.8 million and only the second franchise to break the $200 million barrier, according to a study of big league contracts by the Associated Press.
Houston was last at $27.3 million, down from about $61 million opening day last year and less than the major league-leading $29 million for the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez.
Foreign players down slightly
The commissioner’s office says that 28.1 percent of Major League Baseball players on opening day rosters were born outside of the 50 United States.
It’s the fourth-highest amount in big league history, trailing last season, 2007, and 2005. There were 241 players born outside the U.S. out of the 856 players on 30 big league rosters, the disabled list and restricted list.
The Dominican Republic, winner of the recent World Baseball Classic, was the best represented country with 89 players. Venezuela was second with 63, then Canada (17), Cuba (15) and Mexico (14).
Milwaukee had the most foreign-born players with 14 and Texas was next at 13.