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A-Rod to play final game for Yankees

Associated Press Associated Press 8/08/2016 By Mike Fitzpatrick

Alex Rodriguez, one of the most prolific hitters and polarising figures in baseball history, will take his final at-bat with the New York Yankees on Friday.

A-Rod and the club made the announcement on Sunday, and while he was not willing to use the word retire, there seemed little chance any other team would make him an offer to play on.

"This is a tough day. I love this game and I love this team," he said, often choking up. "And today I'm saying goodbye to both."

The 41-year-old Rodriguez, who sat out the 2014 season while serving a performance-enhancing drug suspension, will play against Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium and then be released.

New York will pay him the remainder of the approximately $US27 million ($A35.47 million) he's owed as part of his $US275 million ($A361.22 million), 10-year contract.

Rodriguez said the agreement arose out of conversations over the past few days with Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner. A-Rod said he asked for one more chance to play in front of a New York crowd.

Relegated to little more than a spare part lately, the three-time AL MVP acknowledged "the last four weeks have not been fun."

"It's been very painful and embarrassing to sit on the bench. It's been awkward. So from that sense I'm very happy that we found this solution."

But he made it clear he still thinks he could contribute on the field.

"You always think you have one more hit in you, or help the team win one more game, for sure," said Rodriguez, who is four home runs shy of 700. "That wasn't in the cards. That was the Yankees' decision and I'm at peace with it."

A 14-time All-Star, Rodriguez has a batting average of a meagre .204 this season with just nine home runs and 29 runs driven in over 216 at-bats. He's started only once in 15 games since July 22.

A-Rod trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on the career home run list, and joins Boston's David Ortiz as iconic stars apparently in their final seasons this year.

Rodriguez led the Yankees to their 2009 World Series title, but it's been a tumultuous tenure since he arrived before the 2004 season in a trade with Texas.

And right up until Sunday's surprise announcement, his time in pinstripes has been filled with drama.

He won his second and third AL MVP awards with the Yankees but has been a pariah to some since his 2009 admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs with the Rangers.

Major League Baseball suspended him on August 5, 2013, for the remainder of that season and all of 2014 for violations of baseball's drug and labour contract, caused by use and possession of numerous prohibited performance-enhancing substances and attempting to cover up his violations.

On Sunday, Rodriguez said he's "been to hell and back, and made every mistake in the book."

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