New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner commended Alex Rodriguez's leadership qualities on and off the field and opened up the possibility of enshrining him in Monument Park.
Speaking on "The Michael Kay Show" on Monday, Steinbrenner said he is looking forward to seeing Rodriguez in his role as special adviser.
"We have two of top five or six overall prospects, both shortstops [Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo] ... I can't think of a better guy than Alex to come in here and really spend time with them than Alex," Steinbrenner said, according to ESPN's Wallace Matthews.
Steinbrenner said Rodriguez, who will play his last game with the Yankees on Friday before he is unconditionally released from his player contract, was not pressured to end his playing career in pinstripes.
"It was not an ultimatum; it was an option,'' Steinbrenner said, according to Newsday's Steven Marcus.
Steinbrenner said he and Rodriguez met last week to discuss Rodriguez's role as an adviser. What made him a good fit, Steinbrenner said, was how he helped players like Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro develop in New York, and Steinbrener hopes Rodriguez can continue to help minor leaguers in a new role.
"It's been great having him here the last two years," Steinbrenner said. "I mean, he had a good year on the field last year. He did great things helping Didi last year. He's doing the same thing for Castro and other players as well. I also wanted him to know my family had a lot of respect for him for what he's accomplished in his career and for all the work, the years he's been with us, that he's done with a lot of young players, and that in no way, shape or form did I want to see him be embarrassed."
Asked if Rodriguez should have his number retired and be enshrined in Monument Park, Steinbrenner said, "That is a bridge to cross when I come to it.
"He has done a lot for this organization and it hasn't just been on the field," he added. "I'm talking about players way back, like [Robinson] Cano. He was a mentor, too. He has done a lot for this organization on the field, but also off the field that a lot of people don't know about. He has been a great leader and he's been a great mentor."