(Reuters) - Alex Rodriguez, returning from a year-long doping ban, surprised the New York Yankees with his unexpected arrival at the team’s training camp on Monday where he said he cringed at some of the mistakes he had made.
The disgraced slugger showed up two days before he was due to report and received a physical exam and took batting practice at the minor league complex before meeting with reporters.
“I feel healthy and ready to go,” said Rodriguez, adding that he thought a year off resting his body and training had benefited him. “I’m confident if I stay healthy I can do good things.
“Plenty of mistakes along the way. I cringe sometimes when I look at some of the things I did. But I paid my penalty and I’m grateful that I have another opportunity.”
Toting a box of bats and wearing a green University of Miami sweat suit, the 39-year-old Rodriguez made his highly anticipated arrival without letting the team know in advance.
Asked what to expect when Rodriguez reported, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said he would be treated like any other player as far as the team were concerned.
“From my end, it’ll be, he’ll show up like everybody else,” said Cashman. “He’ll be in his hitting group and his fielding group, stretching, all that stuff, conditioning side of it. It’ll be no different from our end.”
Rodriguez, who ranks fifth on Major League Baseball’s all-time home run list with 654, also fielded grounders and put in some jogging in the outfield.
Rodriguez was one of 14 players suspended in 2013 stemming from the Biogenesis scandal and was originally handed a 211-game ban. He was the only player to appeal and the punishment was lowered to 162 games.
Last week, Rodriguez issued a handwritten apology to fans for “the mistakes” he made.
Rodriguez, who is owed $61 million by the team for the remaining three years on his contract, has not appeared in a game since September 2013, and his mobility is in question after having had surgery on both his hips.
During the offseason, the Yankees signed third baseman Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million contract in a move that appeared to consign three-time league MVP Rodriguez to designated hitter duties.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue