Yankee able to work out in offseason, and able to laugh off Super exposé

TAMPA, Fla. — Alex Rodriguez arrived at spring training and promptly discussed the most significant activity of his offseason: getting fed popcorn by Cameron Diaz at the Super Bowl in the snack seen ’round the world.

The New York Yankees third baseman, known for dating actress Kate Hudson during the 2009 World Series, was pictured on television with Diaz in a suite at the game in Arlington, Texas.

“Did anyone watch the Super Bowl?” Rodriguez said to laughter Monday. “No popcorn endorsements yet, but our lines are open. Who would be upset about getting fed popcorn?”

Laughter quickly changed to a more serious tone when the discussion shifted to Rodriguez’ onfield game the past two years, which declined following right hip surgery in March 2009.

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The 13-time All-Star and three-time AL MVP came back a leaner A-Rod, down 5 or 6 pounds to around 222.

“This is as healthy as I’ve felt over the last several years,” said the 35-year-old former Mariner. “It’s fun getting back to work. I have a good winter behind me of real work, probably my first since ’07 or ’08. I’m ready to go.”


talks it up

TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said he thinks his team’s celebration of its 2009 World Series championship might have lasted too long.

“I think, maybe, they celebrated too much last year,” Steinbrenner said. “Some of the players, too busy building mansions and doing other things and not concentrating on winning. I have no problem saying that.”

When it was pointed out that Yankees captain Derek Jeter was building a large multimillion dollar home in Tampa last year, Steinbrenner said he wasn’t singling out any individual.

Steinbrenner also said baseball’s revenue sharing and luxury tax programs need changes, and that commissioner Bud Selig is open to the idea.

Steinbrenner said he doesn’t know what the final figure is, but expects the Yankees’ 2010 payments for the two to total about $130 million.

“We’ve got to do a little something about that, and I know Bud wants to correct it in some way,” Steinbrenner said. “Obviously, we’re very much allies with the Red Sox and the Mets, the Dodgers, the Cubs, whoever in that area.”

“At some point, if you don’t want to worry about teams in minor markets, don’t put teams in minor markets, or don’t leave teams in minor markets if they’re truly minor,” Steinbrenner said. “Socialism, communism, whatever you want to call it, is never the answer.”


Justine Siegal became the first woman to pitch batting practice in a major-league spring training camp when she threw to the Indians in Goodyear, Ariz. “If you didn’t see the ponytail, she would have fit right in,” said catcher Paul Phillips. “She did great.” Siegal has already broken gender barriers as the first woman to coach first base in men’s pro baseball for the Brockton (Mass.) Rox in 2009. She spent three years as the only female college baseball coach in the country, when she was an assistant coach at Springfield College (Mass.).

• Just two months shy of his 44th birthday, Omar Vizquel arrived early in White Sox camp to prepare for his 23rd season. “My father played softball until he was like 62 years old. That was a great role model for me,” the former Mariner said. “I think the metabolism we have in our family is good. We don’t have obesity or something like that. It has been a pretty fit family.”

• RHP Ryan Dempster was selected by Cubs manager Mike Quade to start the season opener against Pittsburgh on April 1.

• After putting together a roster that returned the Braves to the playoffs, general manager Frank Wren was rewarded with a two-year contract extension that keeps him in Atlanta through the 2013 season.

• Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee said a side muscle strain was the reason his first bullpen session lasted just eight pitches a week ago. Lee said that he’s “perfectly fine” and the strain under his left armpit is “not really a major issue.” He completed his next two pitching sessions last week, and took part in fielding practice during the first week of spring training.