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Alex Rodriguez has the tools to be a solid mentor for future Yankees

Experience, knowledge, and work ethic make Rodriguez perfect fit for his new role

Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Alex Rodriguez finds himself in the final week of his roller coaster career as Friday quickly approaches. After returning home for the rest of this season, Rodriguez is expected to return as a special adviser for the Yankees come spring training of 2017, barring any other teams coaxing him with the opportunity to play again.

Should he stick with the current plan that was laid out in Sunday’s press conference, he would be transitioning into a position that could come very naturally for a man who has a wealth of baseball knowledge, has years of valuable experience, and an undeniable work ethic to motivate younger players.

Given the state of the Yankees right now, and the wave of youngsters set to begin the new era of the franchise, a sound baseball mind like Rodriguez could help a great deal with a rookie’s transition to the big leagues.

Rodriguez has been where prospects like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and others will soon find themselves; a newcomer with high expectations and a desire to make an immediate impact.

Coming up in New York is a bit different than in other organizations. The demand for quick success constantly lingers in the stands and the headlines, regardless if it is rational or not. It won’t be much different once Judge, Sanchez, and eventually Gleyber Torres find themselves in a regular role with the Bombers.

As Joe Girardi alluded to in Sunday’s press conference, Rodriguez spent extra time with former teammate Robinson Cano early in his career when Cano was trying to become the star many expected him to be. According to Girardi, after Rodriguez took the time to help Cano with his approach at the plate, Cano blossomed.

Back in 2011, Rodriguez was mentoring highly touted prospect Manny Machado during the offseason in Miami. Machado, now enjoying a stellar major league career, marveled at the work Rodriguez put in with him down in South Beach, and the example he set for him as a young teenager. Much like anybody else who has seen Rodriguez train or practice, Machado had the utmost respect for his work ethic, and made a point to emulate it. It seems to be working out for him so far.

If Rodriguez can help jump-start a career like he did with Cano and Machado through extra curricular tutoring, he should be a tremendous asset as a full-time adviser where his only focus is on helping the team he loves being associated with.

Speaking of prospects like Torres, there were some groans about trading Aroldis Chapman for the prized shortstop because, despite being a top prospect, there is already a jam at the shortstop position with Didi Gregorius enjoying his best season, along with coveted shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo making his way up the minor league ranks.

Should the Yankees hold on to those three pieces, Rodriguez and his big league experience would be a major help to the Yankees, since someone would have to change positions.

Rodriguez made the switch to third base from his natural shortstop position when he was traded to the Yankees prior to the 2004 season. It was a fairly seamless transition given the incredible talent Rodriguez has for the game as a whole. That experience would be valuable to someone like Torres or Mateo should they require a switch on defense.

The physical value of Rodriguez has run out. His numbers have shown that. Keeping him around for his mental value is a good move for the organization. Rodriguez is one of the great baseball minds in the game today, as evidenced by former teammate Ivan Nova crediting Rodriguez for helping him escape a jam when he offered Nova his scouting report on how to retire the dangerous David Ortiz, and it worked. His knowledge exceeds his own direct experience, which was acquired through hard work and loving the game enough to want to know everything about it.

Of course, there are those that will say his past mistakes disqualify him as a good example for younger players. Perhaps it’s exactly the opposite. Sometimes the best thing that comes from the severe consequences of one’s mistakes is helping somebody else avoid a similar fate.

Rodriguez has the opportunity to watch talents become superstars, and their careers don’t have to take the moral hit that his did. His mistakes can help prevent others from making similar ones, and maybe his consequences would not have been for nothing.

When the warmth of spring approaches in 2017, and the future of the Yankees arrive in Tampa, a part of the Yankees past can help ensure that the future is as bright as can be. Teaching the game is clearly in the DNA of Rodriguez, and if I am a young player looking to improve as much as possible, I would listen to whatever Rodriguez has to say.