A-Rod retiring after 2017 not set in stone

Yankees DH focused on fulfilling final two years of current contract

A-Rod retiring after 2017 not set in stone

TAMPA, Fla. -- There are at least 324 games remaining on the Alex Rodriguez farewell tour, and while the Yankees designated hitter said he is standing by his comments regarding retirement, he is also reserving the right to change his mind.

Rodriguez said on Thursday he was quoted accurately by ESPN in reports that said the three-time American League MVP believes "it is time to go home and be dad" when his commitment to the Yankees expires at the conclusion of the 2017 season.

"There is no plan," Rodriguez said. "I have a contract and I'm going to fulfill that commitment. The only plan I have is to play baseball right now. Again, I'm 40 years old. I've had two hip surgeries. At my age, I'm day to day."

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Rodriguez, who turns 41 in July, will enter the 2016 season with 687 home runs, which places him fourth in the all-time record book behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).

He hit 33 home runs last year and could find himself within striking distance of the all-time record in two years. It has been suggested that owning the title of home run king might tempt Rodriguez to extend his career, either with the Yankees or another organization.

"Those are such hypotheticals," Rodriguez said. "Last year at this time, I was working my [behind] off to make this team. I had a great year, I've worked really hard, I'm strong and healthy and I feel great. I love this team. I just want to be a contributing member and be a big bat in the middle of the lineup."

Rodriguez has worked hard to avoid controversy in the year-plus following his season-long suspension and seemed to be surprised his comments created a stir, according to manager Joe Girardi.

"I joked a little bit with him. He said, 'Why is it news that a guy that's 42 might retire?'" Girardi said. "I know in most other kinds of jobs that's kind of strange, but there aren't a whole lot of 42-year-old baseball players running around."

Rodriguez said he was driving with his daughters on Wednesday afternoon when they asked if he was retiring.

"I just said, 'I have two more years left,'" Rodriguez said. "They said, 'Good. We love the Yankees and we want to keep seeing you play baseball.'"

A 14-time All-Star, Rodriguez is eighth in runs scored (2,002), sixth in extra-base hits (1,259), eighth in total bases (5,734) and 22nd in slugging percentage (.554).

"For the first time in my career, the first time in a long time, I have wind at my back," Rodriguez said. "It's a lot more fun than having it right in my face. It's a lot more fun running downhill than uphill. That's my goal this year. There's a lot of baseball to be played. Over 300 games."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.