By Patrick Kelly.

The 22 year career of one of baseball’s biggest stars, as well as most controversial figures, is ending in Tampa Bay on Friday.

Rodriguez is 4th all-time on the MLB career home run list with 696, and ranks 3rd in RBIs with 2,084. With stats that would put him in the running for the greatest baseball player of all-time, the admitted use of performance enhancing drugs will forever bring his true greatness into question.

On Sunday, the Yankees announced that Rodriguez would be playing his final game just 5 days later. At the time, Yankee manager Joe Girardi implied at the news conference that Alex Rodriguez would be able to dictate his own playing time over his final remaining games.

"If he wants to play in every game, I'll find a way," an emotional Girardi said at the news conference. This, however, did not come to pass.

After very limited playing time over the last month, Rodriguez was relishing the opportunity to get on the field over the final 4 days of his tenure as a player with New York. It is safe to say that he was not pleased when learning that Girardi had changed his mind - and would not be playing him the first 2 games of the series at Fenway Park against the rival Boston Red Sox.

“I came to the stadium really excited, hoping I would play all three games or maybe two out of three,” Rodriguez said before not playing in the Yankees’ 5-3 loss to the Red Sox, despite hearing “We Want A-Rod” chants in the bottom of the ninth. “He just said, ‘We’re trying to win games.’ It was surprising and shocking.” Rodriguez said after arriving at the stadium on Tuesday to find that he would not be in the lineup.

Joe Girardi speaking as to why he had initially said Rodriguez could play all four games, "I'm an emotional guy," Girardi said. "My heart can get tugged at. I think I got caught up in the emotions. I'm human. There is a human element to me. There is a human element to Alex.”

With the Yankees still mathematically alive in the AL Wild Card race, it is Joe Girardi’s first priority to win games, and he is making the moves he feels will give the team their best chance. Rodriguez should feel lucky that knuckle-ball pitcher Steven Wright is throwing for Boston on Thursday. Allowing Rodriguez a spot in the lineup, as Starling Castro is the only Yankee hitter to have any success for the Yankees off of the right-handed knuckle-baller.

Alex Rodriguez has also been promised that he will get the start on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays, in what is likely to be his final game in the MLB. After that, he will be released by the Yankees, technically becoming a free agent - though interest in him is very low, given his horrendous season.

Photo: flickr/keithallison