NEW YORK – Retirement is coming early for Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who had intended to hang up his pinstripes in 2017.
Rodriguez, 41, will play his final major league game next Friday with the New York Yankees and then become a special adviser and instructor with the team.
Rodriguez and the club made the announcement before Sunday's home game against Cleveland.
"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."
A-Rod will play against Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium on Friday night before ending one of the most prolific and polarizing careers in baseball history.
The designated hitter, a three-time AL MVP and 14-time All-Star, is hitting .204 this season with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 216 at-bats. His worsening slump finally relegated him to the bench for most of the past month, with Rodriguez getting only one start and seven at-bats in 14 games since July 22.
With Brett Gardner, Brian McCann and his teammates in attendance at a packed news conference, Rodriguez said he was thankful he'd get a few more at-bats in front of family and friends.
"We all want to keep playing forever," Rodriguez said. "But it doesn't work that way."
When the fourth-place Yankees (55-55) traded veterans Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova leading up to last Monday's trade deadline, they made it clear they were turning toward a youth movement.
Rodriguez has 696 home runs and trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on the all-time list.
After Rodriguez's last game, he will be unconditionally released by the club and he'll back home to Florida. He said he thought his off-the-field duties would begin at spring training next year in Tampa.
Rodriguez has a $20 million salary this year and is owed $20 million more in 2017, the final season of a $275 million, 10-year contract that was the baseball's largest when he signed it.
"After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain a part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which I know he can flourish," Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.
Like us on Facebook