CAP CANA, Dominican Republic — Dressed all in black, controversial Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez turned heads when he arrived at a charity event hosted by David Ortiz Friday night.
With his girlfriend, retired professional wrestler Torrie Wilson, by his side, Rodriguez made his way to a table and had dinner as photographers surrounded him.
The baseball world is waiting for a decision from arbiter Fredric Horowitz on whether Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension will be upheld by Major League Baseball. Rodriguez has been charged with taking performance-enhancing drugs and impeding baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.
Horowitz is reviewing what was a contentious appeals hearing and is expected to announce a decision next month. Legal wranglings have been going on since the summer and Rodriguez could take baseball to federal court if he disagrees with the outcome.
“I feel good. I have limits what I can talk about. I look forward to Horowitz making a decision and putting this behind me and getting back to hitting in the middle of the lineup,” Rodriguez said Friday.
“I’m optimistic, hopefully. It’s been a very tough several months. Very tough year. I’m optimistic that [a decision] will come soon,” he said. “We can get it behind us and take all the stuff off the back pages and focus on playing baseball and all the great things that are happening with the game.’’
Rodriguez, 38, hit .244 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs over 44 games last season.
“I’m doing everything that I can, in my power, to get ready for spring training. This is the best I’ve felt in any offseason in a long time. My work is going very well,” he said.
If he is eligible to play, Rodriguez would join a Yankees team that added Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury to offset the departure of Robinson Cano to Seattle.
“We’ve made some strong moves, I’m looking forward to being a righthanded bat in the middle of that lineup,” he said. “Cano’s my little brother. I’m obviously happy for him and his family and I think he’s going to have a fantastic career over there,” he said.
Ortiz, who invited Rodriguez, reserved comment about the disgraced slugger’s legal battles.
“I’ve been his friend and I support him. If he is suspended, he’ll have to take that punishment,” Ortiz said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Mike Napoli wants more
Perhaps no one soaked up the euphoria of winning the World Series more than Mike Napoli. He’ll be the first to admit it.
From mixing it up with fans at bars on Boylston Street to roaming the city streets, Napoli wanted to stretch out the championship celebration as long as possible.
“I definitely had a good time after the World Series, after we won it,” Napoli said. “I just spent time with my family and my friends and the fans and the people of Boston. It was a great time. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Once the afterglow wore off, and the reality of having to work through the free agent process set in, he realized not only how much he wanted to do it again, but how much he wanted to do it in Boston.
As enticing as offers from the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, and Miami Marlins might have been, signing a two-year, $32 million deal to stay with the Sox made the most sense for Napoli.
“I think that after going through this and being able to sit down and realize what happened, for me, it makes me hungrier,” Napoli said. “I started training again and I can’t wait to get back on the field and get with my teammates again and try to do it again.’’
Napoli hit .259 with 23 homers and 92 RBIs as the cleanup hitter for the most productive offense in baseball.
He did it on a one-year, $5 million deal (with $8 million in incentives, which he reached) after his original three-year, $39 million deal was reworked when Red Sox doctors discovered a degenerative condition in his hips.
Having the process go more smoothly this time was a relief, Napoli said.
“After going through what I went through last year, it was definitely a relief to just go through this and it was fairly easier than last year,” Napoli said. “But ultimately I’m happy to be back.”
The new deal is guaranteed with no provisions for future hip issues.
“We’re confident that Mike is healthy and we’re thrilled that he’s going to be a big part of our team for the next couple years and hopefully beyond,” said Sox general manager Ben Cherington.
Jose Iglesias rooted for Sox
Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias, who is attending David Ortiz’s charity golf tournament in the Dominican Republic, said he watched every game of the World Series rooting for his former Red Sox teammates.
“They were battling for my ring,” said Iglesias, who was traded in July.
Iglesias said the July 30 trade was shocking to him, but he adjusted once he got to know the Detroit players. He said he is happy he started his career with the Sox.
“This was my first organization. I’ve got a great memory of the organization that built the player that I am and the player that I will be,” he said.
“Later on, when my son says, ‘What team did you used to play for, daddy?’ I’ll say, ‘I played for the Red Sox. Hey, look, I got a ring from the Red Sox.’ I feel a big part of that win, as well, because I helped the team a lot.”
Franklin Morales to start pitching
Lefthander Franklin Morales pitched in 20 games last season because of injuries. To compensate, he will join Caracas in the Venezuelan League this month to get in some innings. “I know how my body feels and I need to pitch before spring training,” Morales said. “Last year was bad. This will be good for me before I go to spring training.” Morales pitched effectively as a starter and reliever in 2012 before posting a 4.62 earned run average last season. Morales will pitch in relief in a few games for Caracas before making some starts to build up his arm . . . Ryan Kalish signed a minor league contract with the Cubs that included an invitation to spring training. Kalish was drafted by the Sox in 2006 when Cubs executives Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod were with the Red Sox. Kalish hit .243 in 89 major league games for the Red Sox. He missed the 2013 season recovering from shoulder surgery . . . The Red Sox signed infielder Brandon Snyder and righthanders Miguel Celestino and John Ely to minor league contracts that include invitations to spring training.