Notes: A-Rod vague on opt-out clause

A-Rod vague on opt-out clause

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's book tour may have moved on to Florida, but his brief visit to the Big Apple left a trail of questions concerning his contract.

Rodriguez's landmark deal contains an opt-out clause that could make him a free agent after the 2007 season. In town to promote his children's book, "Out of the Ballpark," Rodriguez's responses concerning the clause were consistently vague.

Asked about his future in New York before meeting reporters at his book signing Tuesday, Rodriguez told MLB.com, "My thought process right now is winning a world championship. I'm really excited about that. I'm taking it one day at a time."

That statement echoed sentiments Rodriguez would relay minutes later to a group of reporters. The two-time American League MVP has three years and $72 million remaining on his contract after this season.

Earlier this offseason, outfielder J.D. Drew utilized an opt-out clause to leave his contract with the Dodgers, signing a $70 million, five-year deal with the Red Sox. Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez triggered an opt-out clause in November to score a raise, re-signing for a five-year, $75 million deal.

Drew and Rodriguez are represented by the same agent, Scott Boras.

Rodriguez -- who signed a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Rangers on Dec. 11, 2000 -- said that he had not followed the negotiations of Drew's situation.

Boras told The Associated Press that Rodriguez has reflected happiness in New York and has not discussed triggering an opt-out clause, "and probably will not until the season is completed."

Interestingly, Rodriguez expressed enthusiasm that Yankee Stadium had been awarded the 2008 All-Star Game. When the topic was broached by a reporter, Rodriguez spoke of the possibility of wearing pinstripes next to shortstop Derek Jeter.

"Hopefully, I can be right there in the middle playing third base, along with my buddy [Jeter] at short, and we can represent the Yankees," Rodriguez said. "That's pretty awesome. I've never started a season saying, 'I hope I play in the All-Star Game,' but I have to be honest -- playing in New York, being a historian, that's pretty damn cool."

Catch this: A total of 100 players have played for both the Yankees and the Mets, ranging alphabetically from Juan Acevedo to Todd Zeile.

That century mark figures to be shattered when Doug Mientkiewicz plays his first game in pinstripes, but non-roster invitee Todd Pratt plans on making it an even number.

Pratt, who turns 40 on Friday, is the most experienced of a group of candidates to serve as Jorge Posada's backup catcher in 2007. He was pursued briefly by general manager Brian Cashman last season before the Yankees settled on Kelly Stinnett.

After hitting .207 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 62 games for the Braves in 2006, Pratt signed a Minor League contract with the Yankees in January following a personal invite from Cashman.

"Cashman called me and asked me if I'd be interested in a chance at making the team," Pratt said in a recent telephone interview. "Anytime you get a chance to be a Yankee, you can't turn it down."

Pratt said he is confident he'll be able to win a job in Spring Training. Reputed as a clubhouse presence, Pratt is close with Yankees coach Larry Bowa from their days with the Phillies.

Remembered in Mets lore for his extra-inning home run off Matt Mantei that clinched the 1999 National League Division Series against the D-backs, Pratt said he is ready for a second turn on the city's big stage.

"I just love New York," Pratt said. "I'm happy for the opportunity, actually. I've been there and I know I can handle the pressure. I played in the [2000] World Series against the Yankees, and I think that's the type of player I am. I come up big when things need to happen."

Wil Nieves, hitless in 10 at-bats as a Yankee, is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster. Francisco Cervelli, Raul Chavez, Ben Davis, P.J. Pillittere and Omir Santos are the other catchers being extended spring invites.

Early action: The official report date for Yankees pitchers and catchers isn't until Tuesday, but already the Legends Field complex is bustling with activity. Jeter, Posada and Miguel Cairo are among the big-league mainstays already working out. The AP reported that Japanese left-hander Kei Igawa arrived at camp on Wednesday.

The veterans have been joined by an assemblage of early-reporting Minor Leaguers, including Tyler Clippard, Brett Gardner, Philip Hughes, Jeff Karstens and Humberto Sanchez.

Of course, one player not yet scheduled to be in attendance is Bernie Williams. The outfielder is still mulling the Yanks' offer of becoming a non-roster invitee; Boras told the New York Post that Williams has not made any final decisions and expects a decision at or near the start of Spring Training.

One 'Perfect' evening: Yogi Berra and Don Larsen will be the guests of honor at "The Perfect Game Revisited," to be held on Feb. 23 at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center in Montclair, N.J.

The evening will feature a dinner and screening of Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, to benefit the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center and the Don Larsen Foundation. For more information, click on www.yogiberramuseum.org.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.