A-Rod homers in first rehab game at Double-A
Yankees' third baseman collects pair of hits, contributes sharp defense
READING, Pa. -- While Major League Baseball's All-Star Week trappings were all over Broadway, Alex Rodriguez continued his Yankees rehabilitation assignment in one of Minor League Baseball's classic ballparks, FirstEnergy Stadium, on Monday night.
Rodriguez, who is coming off January left hip surgery and will turn 38 on July 27, hit a two-run homer during the first of what could be three games with the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees' Double-A Eastern League affiliate. Trenton (48-46) held off the Reading Fightin Phils, 6-5, before 6,506 fans.
Rodriguez had to be pleased with Monday's results. He finished 2-for-4 with a strikeout and is 5-for-25 in nine rehabilitation appearances with Class A Charleston, Class A Advanced Tampa and Trenton. The fifth-inning home run was a towering, 400-foot drive to left-center, and it followed a 12-pitch at-bat in the third inning during which Rodriguez fouled off six pitches before producing a line-drive single off Reading third baseman Maikel Franco's glove.
Rodriguez struck out in his fourth at-bat, chasing a pitch out of the zone from Reading's Colby Shreve.
"It's a process, one game at a time, but this is the best I felt by far," said Rodriguez. "The home run felt good. I couldn't remember my last one."
Rodriguez played seven innings at third base on Monday night and is scheduled for the same on Tuesday, when the Thunder will again face Reading at 6:05 p.m. ET. Rodriguez's status for Wednesday's game, to start at noon, is still up in the air.
"We're leaving [Wednesday] open right now," said Rodriguez, whose 20-day rehabilitation assignment is set to end on July 22. "It will depend on how I feel and how things go in the first two games. I'm just trying to get back to doing things I can do on a baseball field. I want to feel good swinging and making contact. That's how I rate myself. I really started feeling better with the way I impacted the ball Sunday.
"I thought it would take until about the 10th game to start making an impact. I am hoping to be back [with the Yankees] in six days. I'm in Reading. I'm excited."
The biggest issue for Rodriguez, as well as many of the other Yankees who have followed the rehabilitation path this season, is the time he has spent away from baseball. Facets of the game that had long been performed by instinct have gotten rusty.
To Rodriguez's credit, his swing looked in sync. His hip motion was fluid. He displayed power on his homer, a majestic blast that easily cleared the left-center-field fence and earned Rodriguez applause from the crowd.
Rodriguez also looked fluid at third base, charging balls, picking up hops and executing strong throws to first.
"I want to get as many at-bats as I can and play as much third base as I can, especially after the rain we had in Florida," Rodriguez said. "It got to the point where we were taking ground balls in hallways.
"It's good to get here and play baseball. We'll do it again tomorrow."
Rodriguez also praised the Yankees' Tampa, Fla.-based medical staff, which he said went out of its way to be supportive during his recuperation from surgery.
"They were great -- with me 24 hours a day," Rodriguez said. "They constantly did all I can ask. They helped get me this far.
"For me, this has been a long process, having had surgery so many months ago. I don't know how anyone else feels about this process, but for me, it's been an education. It's been different at each level of the Minors.
An interesting sidelight to Rodriguez's rehab game at Reading is that he often visited family in the Pennsylvania city back when he was between the ages of 10 and 13.
"My aunt loved Reading," Rodriguez said. "She drove me all around, to places like Hershey. I enjoyed it. It was so different than Miami."
Rodriguez sidestepped questions about his recent contact with the Yankees as well as the investigation into his involvement with Biogenesis, a former Miami-area clinic alleged to have provided players with performance-enhancing drugs.
"I keep all my conversations with the team private," Rodriguez said. "We're fine."
"I expected the question. With the process, I can't answer right now."