Pressing at plate, A-Rod endures first career 0-for-6
NEW YORK -- The career home run total was in Alex Rodriguez's mind each time he stepped into the batter's box on Wednesday afternoon, which prompted some unproductive at-bats. If this sounds familiar, he and the Yankees lived through a similar situation five years ago.
Rodriguez endured a 46 at-bat wait before hitting homer No. 600 in August 2010, and after the 39-year-old flailed through the first 0-for-6 game of his career in a 3-2, 13-inning loss to the Rays on Wednesday, Rodriguez acknowledged that his pursuit of Willie Mays and homer No. 660 may be creeping in too much.
"Maybe a little bit," Rodriguez said. "I know I stayed on 600 for a long time, and it's only been a few games here. It would've been nice to do it at home."
Since a two-homer game at Tropicana Field on April 17, Rodriguez has gone 5-for-36 (.138) with 11 strikeouts, though he did slug career homer No. 659 off the Mets' Jon Niese on Sunday. Rodriguez is looking to tie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list and can try again on Friday at Fenway Park.
"It's just kind of what you go through as a hitter," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "There's going to be times where you're extremely hot and there's going to be times where you're not swinging it as well. You hope when you're not swinging it as well, the other guys can pick you up."
Rodriguez said that he "didn't feel very comfortable" on Wednesday, particularly against Rays left-hander Drew Smyly, who struck him out in his first three at-bats.
"I wasn't picking up the ball very well. I took some really ugly swings," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez grounded out in the ninth against Kevin Jepsen, was handed the golden sombrero in the 11th by striking out against Brad Boxberger, then grounded into a game-ending double play facing Ernesto Frieri in the 13th.
"I definitely chased today," Rodriguez said. "I will often talk about -- going back to Spring Training -- one of the keys for our offense, and me specifically, is swing at strikes and take your 'A' swing. Today I didn't do that."
As he prepares to make his first trip to Fenway since his historic season-long suspension, Rodriguez said that his focus needs to be on helping the Yankees win another series. His reception there, as well as the home run chase, will be a fun side note for his teammates.
"It's a lot of home runs," Yankees left-hander Andrew Miller said. "I think everyone is going to be interested, in some sense. I think just the fact that he's wearing a Yankee uniform in Fenway Park is going to be a big deal. I hope he gets it just from the sense, because if he gets it, it means we're scoring runs. He's on our side, so I'm pulling for him."
Rodriguez said that he would "press delete" on Wednesday's game, and he'd have no argument with tying Mays next time up.
"I'm excited. I love playing at Fenway," Rodriguez said. "It's a fun place to play, great fans, and obviously I have a lot of respect for everyone with the Red Sox."