Petrocelli: 'A-Rod can handle it'

Updated: February 17, 2004, 11:38 AM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
Rico Petrocelli was 27 years old and a two-time American League All-Star in December of 1970, when Boston Red Sox management approached him and asked if he'd be willing to move from shortstop to third base to make room for Luis Aparicio.

Rico Petrocelli
Petrocelli, the consummate team player, said yes. Then he adjusted his cup and got down to business.

Just for the sake of historical perspective, the average big-league salary was $29,303 in 1970. Alex Rodriguez, who'll make the same positional switch for the New York Yankees this season, spends $29,303 a year on cologne. With a base salary of $22 million, he averaged $36,243 per at-bat in 2003.

In conjunction with his move from shortstop to third base -- a concession that paved the way for New York to acquire him from Texas -- A-Rod gets a hotel suite on the road and the right to link his personal Web site to the Yankees' team site. Yes, sports fans, times have changed since Marvin Miller was newly arrived from the steelworkers union and fighting to improve the lot of the poor, underprivileged big leaguer.

But some things never change. The distance from home plate to third is still 90 feet. And the phrase "hot corner," while antiquated, still applies.

Everybody has an opinion on the A-Rod trade, from Yankees fans to commissioner Bud Selig to Larry Lucchino. But Petrocelli is one of the few people who understands what's in store for Rodriguez this season when he makes the dramatic move 15 steps to his right.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer