A-Rod shares lessons with prospects over dinner

A-Rod shares lessons with prospects over dinner

TAMPA, Fla. -- Embracing his new role as a Yankees special guest instructor, Alex Rodriguez said that he believed it would be valuable to take a group of young players out to a lengthy dinner, offering the Yankees hopefuls an opportunity to ask questions on a variety of topics.

Rodriguez and the prospects broke bread on Thursday evening, gathering at a local steakhouse to swap stories while digging into the challenges and rewards involved with making it in New York.

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"Any time you get a chance to pick the brain of someone like Alex Rodriguez, it's an honor," said Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. "It was good. We asked a lot of quality questions, he gave us a lot of good information. He's somebody who's been in the game for more than 20 years; he was doing something right."

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Originally scheduled to be in camp for three days this week, Rodriguez extended his visit by a night to dine with the prospects, then stayed for New York's Grapefruit League exhibition opener against the Phillies on Friday.

Now an advisor to managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, the owner of 696 home runs said that he is grateful for the opportunity to surround himself with young players and talk about the expectations of the organization.

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"I'm in a unique position from all the things I've done in this game, both good and bad," Rodriguez said. "I learned my biggest lessons with some of my mistakes, and they were big ones. I can spend all the time in the world out there on the field. These guys are great talents. They're the best players from their high schools or colleges."

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Infielder Gleyber Torres said that he asked Rodriguez two questions, wanting to know how he felt when he was first called up to the Major Leagues, and how it felt to play at Yankee Stadium.

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"[He said], 'I always stay easy, enjoy the game, be prepared for the game,'" Torres said. "Alex is good people. If I need something, he'll help me with whatever I want. The approach for everything, I listened to what he said."

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Tyler Wade said that Rodriguez's candor made the experience an enjoyable one.

"I felt like I was his teammate. I felt comfortable," Wade said. "I think it went very smooth. I think some guys had some important questions that were asked, and he addressed them."

Rodriguez's dinner took place just a few days after Derek Jeter met with a group of about 20 players and front-office personnel as part of the club's 'Captain's Camp,' a leadership program run by Gary Denbo, the Yankees' vice president of player development.

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"[Rodriguez] has been through a lot; you can learn from a guy like that," Wade said. "You can learn from a guy like Derek. You kind of just listen and make sure everything they say hits you. It's going to help your career."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.