Yankees to release Alex Rodriguez on Friday

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Alex Rodriguez announces his retirement

NEW YORK, Aug 7 (Reuters) - The New York Yankees will release former MVP Alex Rodriguez from his 10-year, $275 million contract that runs through 2017 and he will play his final game with the team on Friday, the team said on Sunday.

Rodriguez, 41 and known as A-Rod, is having one of the worst years of his professional career, hitting nine home runs with a batting average of .204. He has 696 home runs in his Major League career, which began with the Seattle Mariners in 1994.

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​​​​​"This is a tough day. I love this game and I love this team," an emotional Rodriguez told a Yankee Stadium news conference. "Saying goodbye may be the hardest part of the job."

Rodriguez has numbers that rank among the best in baseball history but has also seen his reputation tarnished by performance enhancing drugs. He missed the entire 2014 season due to a doping suspension.

He will be unconditionally released by the club from his player contract in order to sign a contract to serve as a special adviser and instructor with the Yankees through December 31, 2017, the Yankees said in a statement

When asked by a reporter what made him decide to step down nearly three months before the end of the season, Rodriguez said: "That was the Yankees' decision and I am at peace with it."

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas and Frank McGurty in New York; Editing by Howard Goller)

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