ALEX RODRIGUEZ faces a diminished role in his return to the New York Yankees, who have stripped A-Rod of his third-base job and plan to limit his role to full-time designated hitter - at most.

General manager Brian Cashman said yesterday that A-Rod's days as an everyday fielder are over in the Bronx and Chase Headley will start at third after agreeing this week to a $52 million, 4-year contract.

Coming off a season-long suspension for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract, Rodriguez will have to compete with Martin Prado for time as Headley's backup at third.

"I can't expect Alex to be anything," Cashman said during a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "I've got to think the worst and hope for the best. Even before the suspension, he wasn't the same player at third base on the defensive or offensive side. And that was before the suspension. And now he's been out of the game for a year. He's approaching 40 years of age.''

Rodriguez turns 40 in July and has not played a full season since 2007 because of leg injuries, operations on both hips and the suspension. Cashman said A-Rod will have to prove to manager Joe Girardi he can play the field.

In other baseball news:

* A person familiar with the negotiations said first baseman Mike Morse has agreed to a 2-year contract with the Miami Marlins, pending a physical. Last season, Morse hit .279 with 16 homers and 61 RBI in 131 games for the World Series champion Giants.

* Free agent righthander Gavin Floyd, 31, agreed to a $4 million, 1-year contract with the Cleveland Indians. Floyd is 72-72 with a 4.40 ERA in 196 starts and 12 relief appearances.

College Football

* Pittsburgh coach

Paul Chryst

is moving closer to taking the head coaching job at Wisconsin. A person with direct knowledge of situation told the

Associated Press

that Chryst traveled to Madison, Wis., to meet with university officials.

* Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman was hired as Houston's new coach.

* Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins took the same job at Florida. Collins was a recent nominee for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach.

* Last Saturday's Army-Navy game was the highest-rated on TV in 15 years.

Auto Racing

* Sprint informed NASCAR it won't extend title sponsorship of the top Sprint Cup Series beyond its current contract, which expires after the 2016 season.


* A CONCACAF Gold Cup knockout-round match will be played at Lincoln Financial Field in July. It will be the first Gold Cup match at the Linc since 2009, when a quarterfinal doubleheader featuring the United States was played.

* French great Thierry Henry, 37, officially announced his retirement after a 20-year career.