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Original Issue

The Bronx Is Churning

ALEX RODRIGUEZ'S DIVORCE from the Yankees was quick but not without acrimony. Hank Steinbrenner, the senior vice president and elder son of owner George Steinbrenner, showed he's a chip off the old Boss with his response to Rodriguez's decision to opt out of his $252 million contract, basically telling the slugger that if he didn't want to be a Yankee, he could take his 54 home runs and hit the road. Theoretically New York could join the free-agent derby for Rodriguez, but it's almost certain he'll break Barry Bonds's alltime home run mark in another uniform. But which one?

The Angels, Giants, Dodgers, Red Sox and Mets are the obvious potential suitors. But Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras, have courted dark-horse candidates before. (Did anyone foresee Rodriguez's landing in Texas in 2001?) The Yankees have their own decisions to make. A scan of the sparse third base market has to be depressing. They could try for former Yankees farmhand Mike Lowell, 33, coming off his World Series MVP; the day before Rodriguez opted out, one team official said, "Let's go for Lowell. He's better defensively, anyway." (But Yankees officials privately concede they'd be surprised if he leaves Boston.) Another option might be to trade for Miguel Cabrera, the Marlins wunderkind who's already suffering from expanding girth in his mid-20s.

Whatever they do, the Yankees need some positive p.r. They've lost manager Joe Torre, and on Monday they alienated iconic former first baseman Don Mattingly by choosing Joe Girardi (above) as Torre's replacement. (As of Monday, Girardi and the Yankees were still negotiating.) Boras said one factor in Rodriguez's decision was Hank Steinbrenner's remark last week that the franchise was entering a "transitional" phase. There's no turning back now.



GONE Boras (left) says A-Rod won't be playing for Girardi.