Yankees manager Joe Girardi admitted right after the Yankees' season ended that he might have to think more than usual about how he deals with Alex Rodriguez this offseason. He said as much during New York's postmortem news conference, discussing how he would keep track of his relationship with Rodriguez as the fall gave way to winter.
Girardi has already taken the first step toward doing that, according to an ESPN New York report, speaking with Rodriguez by phone for more than an hour Friday. Citing an anonymous source who said their talk went "great," the report said that Girardi did not apologize for benching the scuffling third baseman during the postseason. Instead, Girardi once again emphasized how important A-Rod is to the Yankees and discussed expectations for the third baseman's training program this winter.
Rodriguez was constantly the center of attention as the Yankees were eliminated by the Tigers in a four-game sweep in the American League Championship Series. Girardi essentially reduced Rodriguez, who is set to make at least $114 million over the next five years, to a platoon third baseman, sitting him in three games and pinch-hitting for him on three other occasions.
"I made decisions based on the season, a month, what I'd seen," Girardi said last week at Yankee Stadium. "For me to go back and say I would have changed anything, these weren't just, 'Let me go off the top of my head and make a decision.' These were things we evaluated a lot before we made our decisions."
Rodriguez batted a combined 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts and no extra-base hits in the Yankees' two postseason series. After getting benched, the matter of his future in New York became a primary topic of conversation, as many wondered if Girardi and Rodriguez could maintain a healthy working relationship going forward.
For his part, Rodriguez has said he won't waive the no-trade clause in his contract and expects to be with the Yankees when they convene in Tampa, Fla., for Spring Training.
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.