TAMPA, Fla.—On the far wall of the Yankees’ clubhouse at Legends Field sits the locker of Alex Rodriguez. In it are a few uniforms, several shoe boxes and a glove and ball on the top shelf. All that’s missing is A-Rod, who is off recovering from hip surgery elsewhere, his return to the club unknown.
The embattled, half-broken down slugger isn’t the only Bronx Bombers’ star with an uncertain future. In a season that could be called the Yankees’ Last Stand (as we know them), six core members of the roster are preparing for what could be their final year in pinstripes.
— Mariano Rivera, 43, says he will tell us by the end of spring training whether he plans to pitch in 2014. I take that as a clue that he’ll announce this is his final season, which will allow him the kind of sendoff season he deserves.
— Andy Pettitte, 40, already has retired once and is pitching this year in part because he was injured for much of last season.
— Robinson Cano is entering the final year of his contract and though he said at a Monday news conference that “It’s not about the money” (really, he said that), his agent is Scott Boras. While the Yankees aren’t likely to let Cano leave, his return could seal the departure of Curtis Granderson, who also is due to become a free agent in the fall.
— Last but certainly not least is Derek Jeter, 38, one of the five greatest Yankees of all time (Ruth, Gehrig, Yogi and DiMaggio). He also is beginning the last year of his contract, though he holds an $8 million player option for 2014. The notion of Jeter wearing No. 2 for another team indeed is absurd, but the acrimony of his 2010 negotiations can’t be totally discounted.