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Girardi happy to have A-Rod back

NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi is regularly phoning, texting and emailing with Alex Rodriguez, and that has left the Yankees manager excited about the third baseman's comeback.

"I am," said Girardi, who spent about 10 of his 14 minutes of a media session at Yankee Stadium talking about Rodriguez and his return from a yearlong suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis case. "When Alex has walked into camp, when hasn't there been a lot of attention on him over the last five years?

"There is going to be attention. Some of it is going to be negative. Some of it is going to be positive. We'll deal with it. I know there is going to be a lot of attention the first week [of spring training], and then everyone sort of disperses and covers other stories around the country. We'll have to deal with a lot in the beginning, but it will spread around the country. It always does."

Girardi mentioned that he may visit Rodriguez during the winter, but no plans are set.

The manager doesn't believe that Rodriguez has to make amends with all the groups that he offended by vehemently protesting his season-long suspension, even while reportedly admitting to the Drug Enforcement Administration he had used performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez sued MLB, the MLB Players Association and the Yankees' team doctors but eventually dropped the suits.

"We live in a forgiving world in the sports world," said Girardi, who led a group of employees and volunteers putting together care packages for servicemen and women in the Bronx on Veterans Day on Tuesday. "It is something we live in. His job, his main concern, just has to be getting prepared to play and just doing his job. That's what he needs to do."

The job that Girardi said Rodriguez is preparing for -- to play third base -- is one the Yankees are trying to fill. The team has made re-signing free agent Chase Headley a priority.

Headley, between the San Diego Padres and Yankees, hit .243 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs in 135 games last season.

"In fairness to us and in fairness to Alex, I don't know what to expect because it's been a year," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday in Phoenix. "I just don't know. You hope that he can contribute in a significant way, but we'll have to wait and see how that plays out. In the meantime, I have to look for whatever ways to improve the club and discuss those with ownership. What manifests itself as being available and acquirable, we'll see."

If Headley is re-signed, Rodriguez likely would DH more and maybe even play some first base. Cashman mentioned this possibility earlier in the offseason.

Girardi phoned Rodriguez about the idea.

"I just brought it up," Girardi said. "I just said, 'On a day we give [Mark Teixeira] a day off, maybe it is something we will think about. He said, 'We can talk about it.' We'll talk about it more as the offseason goes on.

"I think you have to see. I think what I wanted to give him [was] a little more preparation, depending on what happens over the winter and the makeup of our club, it could be possible that I might ask him to do that."

While many decision-makers in the organization question whether Rodriguez can still play third, Girardi sounds willing to give him a look there.

"We are preparing him to play third base," Girardi said. "But obviously, I think there are going to be some DH days in there. You have to see where he is at. He is going to be 40. He hasn't played a whole lot in the last couple of years. Our hope is that he comes back and he is a very productive player for us."

Said Cashman:"He's going to compete for at-bats and for a position. The position would be third and obviously DH and that's it. Maybe some time at first base. He may be eventually the every-day third baseman, he may be the every-day DH; I just don't know. I'm going to do everything in my power to drum up some opportunities that are realistic and present them to ownership that may or may not involve third base. I don't know. It's very early in the process."

Information from ESPNNewYork's Wallace Matthews is included in this report.

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