What’s next for A-Rod? Maybe 3,000 hits this summer
Now that Alex Rodriguez’s 660th home run is in the record books, Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes that the slugger will be able to enjoy the relief of any pressure surrounding the looming achievement.
Rodriguez tied Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list on Friday with his eighth-inning, pinch-hit home run off the Red Sox’s Junichi Tazawa in the Yanks’ 3-2 win at Fenway Park. Babe Ruth (714) is 54 homers away in third place.
“My guess is, [the pressure] is off and he won’t be answering questions, ‘When is he going to hit it?,’ which is nice,” Girardi said. “The next one is pretty far away, so he should be able to get down to normal business now.”
Girardi said that he was told that Rodriguez seemed to be emotional after the homer. Given the turbulence of Rodriguez’s recent history, including last year’s season-long suspension, Girardi said that he believes Rodriguez’s feelings are genuine.
“To me, the way I look at it is, I think he just appreciates being back on the field so much and the opportunities that he has had in his career,” Girardi said. “Sometimes you want players to take a second and reflect.
“The one thing I always said about Derek (Jeter), I hope he takes time to enjoy what he’s going through. Sometimes when you’re going through it, it doesn’t always seem like so much fun, even if it’s an accomplishment.”
With his next homer, Rodriguez will take sole possession of fourth place from Mays, turning some attention to his countdown for 3,000 hits. Rodriguez entered play on Saturday just 44 hits shy, with 2,956 in his 21-year career.
“I still think that he’ll be asked a lot about it,” Girardi said. “There aren’t a lot of people in the big leagues that have had 3,000 hits, so he’ll be asked a lot about it. I’m sure he’ll think plenty about it, but we also have some time until we get there.”
Jeter was the most recent player to join the 3,000 hit club, homering off David Price on July 9, 2011.
In the first on-the-record comments by a Yankees official regarding Alex Rodriguez’s home run bonuses, general manager Brian Cashman said that the team has the right – but not the obligation – to pay a $6 million bonus for the slugger’s 660th home run.
Because the Yankees believe that the marketing value of Rodriguez’s home run was tainted by his past performance-enhancing drug use and last season’s suspension, the team is choosing not to designate Rodriguez’s 660th homer as a ‘milestone,’ thus denying Rodriguez that payout.
“We have the right but not the obligation, in quotes, and it’s as simple as that,” Cashman said. “If we choose to pursue something, we’ll choose to pursue it. If we choose not to, it’s our right not to. In both cases, we’re honoring the contract.”
Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275 million deal signed in 2007 contained a marketing agreement that is separate from his player contract. It stated that the Yankees had the right to designate a ‘milestone’ – valued at $6 million – if Rodriguez tied Mays, Babe Ruth (714), Henry Aaron (755), Barry Bonds (762), plus another if Rodriguez set the all-time home run record.
“We’re going to follow the contract as we follow all contracts, so there is no dispute, from our perspective,” Cashman said. “We’re going to honor our responsibilities of the contract how it’s been reported, I’m going to turn the page and kick it to people above me.
“And what the contract actually says are two different things. We have the right but not the obligation to do something, and that’s it. And it’s not (if) you do this, you get that.”
Asked about the bonus payout on Friday, Rodriguez replied: “You know, I’m so in the moment right now. I’m really grateful to be playing baseball. Those things will take care of themselves.”
If Rodriguez disagrees with the decision, he has the right to have the case heard by an arbitrator. The Major League Baseball Players Association has said that they are prepared to step in on Rodriguez’s behalf if the bonus payment is withheld by the Yankees.
“The great thing about contracts is that if there are any disputes, there’s mechanisms for anybody who has a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation,” Cashman said. “There are procedures in place to have people determine if there is some misunderstanding. I don’t think that we believe there’s any misunderstanding. I think it’s pretty clear.”
Mark Teixeira was back in the lineup Saturday after being hit by a pitch on the right wrist during Friday’s game.
“I talked to Tex about, if he felt that he couldn’t play today, make sure that he texted me in the morning,” Girardi said. “And he assured me today that he’d be able to play. Last night he felt OK. I think he’s OK. I didn’t get a text.”
Esmil Rogers is usually the Yankees’ long reliever, but Girardi went to him last night in the seventh inning. He can serve as a swingman in that way, Girardi said.
“I think he gives us the ability to use him that way just because of the stuff that he has,” Girardi said. “I felt that, when I brought him in yesterday, depending on how the inning was going to go, that I would use him for up to five hitters probably and then go to (Justin) Wilson after that. But sometimes you have to be careful in close games in those situations, because he was my long guy yesterday. I rolled the dice a little bit, and it worked.”