A-Rod says he plans to retire after 2017 season

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FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2015, file photo, New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez flips his bat after striking out in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland. Rodriguez says he plans to retire from baseball after the 2017 season. The Yankees slugger revealed his intentions Wednesday, March 23, 2016, during an interview with ESPN. His plans were confirmed by spokesman Ron Berkowitz. (AP Photo/Aaron Josefczyk, File)

VIERA, Fla. (AP) — Alex Rodriguez says he plans to retire from baseball after the 2017 season, when his $275 million, 10-year contract with the New York Yankees expires.

The 40-year-old slugger, fourth the career home-run list with 687, revealed his intentions Wednesday during an interview with ESPN. His plan was confirmed by spokesman Ron Berkowitz.

“I won’t play after next year,” the three-time AL MVP was quoted as saying by ESPN. “I’ve really enjoyed my time. For me, it is time for me to go home and be Dad.”

Rodriguez is 75 homers shy of matching Barry Bonds’ career record and likely would be unable to reach it unless he plays into 2018. Also ahead of him are Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755).

“He’s going to be 42 at the end of his contract. You don’t see players playing really past that age. I’m not surprised,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Wednesday night’s exhibition game against Washington

But Girardi said this may not be Rodriguez’s final decision.

“I think he’s allowed to change his mind,” the manager said. “With his love of playing the game and competing, if he had two really good years, I wouldn’t be surprised if he changed his mind.”

Rodriguez, who joined the Yankees in 2004 after playing for Seattle and Texas, was suspended for the 2014 season by Major League Baseball for violations of the sport’s drug agreement and labor contract. He returned last season, shifted from third base to designated hitter and batted .250 with 33 homers and 86 RBIs despite a late slump.

“I don’t think it should be too big of a surprise. He’s almost 50 years old, right?” Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner said. “The numbers obviously speak for themselves. He’s been a lot of fun to be around the last year, year-and-a-half since he came back.”

Girardi would not predict whether Rodriguez would be a Hall of Famer.

“That’s to be judged because of what he’s been through,” Girardi said. “Obviously, everyone that has been found guilty of the PED, they (haven’t) been allowed in the Hall of Fame yet.”

Girardi thinks there will be a place for Rodriguez in baseball once his playing days are over. Girardi said “he’d be great” as a coach.

“Sometimes, guys get painted a certain way in the media, and it’s kind of hard to shake that,” Gardner said. “But he’s always been great to me. He’s always been a great teammate. He’s always welcomed me with open arms and more than willing to talk about anything, whether it be baseball related, business related, on the field, off the field, or anywhere in between. He’s always been willing to give me his time. I’ll always be grateful for that.”

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