Alex Rodriguez says he'll be back

Updated: October 19, 2012, 6:03 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

DETROIT -- Alex Rodriguez said that if it is up to him -- and it is -- he will be a Yankee in 2013, and beyond.

"I've never thought about going to another team," he said after the New York Yankees were swept by the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series. "My focus is to stay here. Let's make that very, very clear. I will be back and I have a lot to prove and I will come back on a mission."

Rodriguez, signed through the 2017 season with a full no-trade clause, has been the subject of trade rumors this week.

His role in the Yankees' lineup has been marginalized and information about a conversation between Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Yankees team president Randy Levine about a possible deal to send A-Rod to play in his hometown has emerged.

"I don't get into speculation," Rodriguez said. "I can only deal with what I can control and I'm going to take care of that."

Asked directly if that meant he would not waive his no-trade clause this winter for a trade to Miami, Rodriguez said, "I haven't thought about that. I love New York City. I plan to be here. And I plan to come back and be productive for this team for quite a while."

Rodriguez started Game 4 of the ALCS on the bench, replaced by Eric Chavez at third base, but entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch hitter for Raul Ibanez.

He popped out to shallow center and grounded out to shortstop in the ninth inning of the Yankees' 8-1 loss.

Rodriguez was benched for two of the four games of the ALCS and for the fifth game of the AL Division Series between the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. His postseason numbers were horrendous -- he batted just .111 in the ALCS and .120 (3 for 25) in the postseason. He struck out 12 times.

Rodriguez was just one of a half-dozen Yankees who slumped in the postseason; Robinson Cano hit .075 (3 for 40), Curtis Granderson hit .100 (3 for 30), Russell Martin hit .172 and Chavez went hitless in 16 at-bats.

That lent credence to the theory that Rodriguez was being singled out by manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman, perhaps for reportedly attempting to flirt with two women in the stands at Yankee Stadium while the team was in the process of losing Game 1.

"I don't worry about all that. It comes with the territory," he said. "The thing about this situation is, if I'm playing my game, Joe has no choice but to play me. And If I'm not playing my game, then he's open to other options. I gotta look in the mirror."

Levine said solely blaming Rodriguez' struggles for what happened to the Yankees is unfair.

"I think that too much attention is put on Alex," Levine said. "The fact that we lost this was a total team effort, a total organization effort to single out one person is not fair. At the end of the day, we as an organization lose as an organization. We are all in this together."

Rodriguez, who will turn 38 next July, is signed for the next five years and guaranteed another $114 million.

In addition, his contract includes a marketing agreement with the Yankees that could add as much as $30 million to the deal in the form of $6 million bonuses for reaching each of five target home run totals up to the all-time record of 762 held by Barry Bonds.

Rodriguez has 647 home runs. His next milestone bonus would be passing Willie Mays at 660.

This season, Rodriguez hit .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs, among the lowest power and average totals of his career.

"I sat in this room in 2006 (after another Yankees sweep by the Tigers) and there were a lot of doubters, and I said I was going to go back to the drawing board, and I did," he said. "I came back with a vengeance in '07. I look forward to doing the same."

Rodriguez won the AL MVP in 2007 with a .314 batting average, 54 home runs and 156 RBIs.

Asked why he thought he could be that kind of player again, he said: "Look at my track record. It's pretty darned good. If I do what I know I can do, Joe doesn't have a choice. And neither does Cashman or anybody. They'll have to play me. If I am who I know I can be, they'll worry about other guys."

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand was used in this report.

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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