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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Countdown: 20 days to spring training

By Wallace Matthews

Today we begin our countdown to the day we have all been waiting for since Oct. 6 -- Feb. 12, the day pitchers and catchers report to Yankees spring training camp in Tampa. Each day between now and then, Andrew Marchand, Mark Simon and myself will present a list dealing with a specific issue facing the Yankees this season. And what better place to start than the place that seems to be the center of the Yankees' universe these days: third base. Or more precisely, with the third baseman.

SIX WAYS ALEX RODRIGUEZ'S YANKEES CAREER MIGHT END

1. INJURY: The obvious choice, considering his age, recent injury history and history of steroid abuse, which generally leads to an overall physical breakdown -- something that A-Rod seems to be in the midst of now. His latest injury, a second torn hip labrum that required surgery, will keep him out of the lineup until at least after the All-Star break.

2. TRADE: Much less likely, because how many teams are going to part with prospects in exchange for an aging player who is guaranteed a minimum of $20 million a year over the next five years, with a "reduced" rate that doesn’t kick in until 2016?

3. BUYOUT: Highly doubt this one, because despite what the Mets decided to do to rid themselves of their Jason Bay problem, no team likes paying a guy not to play. Hal Steinbrenner would probably cover his body in tattoos and piercings before forking over many millions of dollars to make A-Rod just go away.

4. RETIREMENT TO BECOME A MOVIE STAR: Sorry, but A-Rod is no Jim Brown.

5. RETIREMENT TO BECOME A PRO WRESTLER: Sorry, but A-Rod is no Hulk Hogan.

6. LEADING THE YANKEES TO ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP OR TWO: Well, what is spring training for if not for dreaming?

QUESTION OF THE DAY: If you were to make a bet on how Alex Rodriguez's Yankees career will end, which number above is your money on?