TAMPA — Alex Rodriguez is downplaying his early spring training success at the plate.
Rodriguez went 2 for 3 and singled in a run for his first RBI since a season-long drug suspension, helping the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 Monday.
“Nothing is real significant this time of year,” Rodriguez said. “Looks better than 0 for 9.”
Rodriguez, seventh in the batting order as New York’s designated hitter, drove in Brian McCann on a first-pitch line single to left off Nathan Karns in the second.
“He looked good,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Rodriguez. “He was aggressive, obviously hunting fast balls. He looked just the same as he did two years ago.”
Against a shift in the fourth, Rodriguez singled through the vacated spot of the second baseman. He flied out in the sixth and is 4 for 9 in four exhibition games.
The number of fans booing when Rodriguez is announced for plate appearances has diminished, and he was been greated mostly by cheers. The three-time AL MVP, who turns 40 in July, has not played a full season since 2007 because the suspension, operations on both hips and other injuries.
Rodriguez, who started at third base Sunday, played in consecutive games for the first time this year.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “Less sore than last week. First week is always the toughest. So far, so good.”
New York starter Michael Pineda gave up one hit over two scoreless innings in his first spring training start. The right-hander struck out two, including Evan Longoria in the first.
“He threw Longoria, I think, a 2-2 power change up that was 90 (mph) that looked Clemens-like or Schilling,” Rodriguez said.
Pineda went 5-5 with an 1.89 ERA in 13 starts last year after missing the previous two seasons with an injured shoulder.
“I’m excited because the command is there,” he said.
Karns, bidding for the fifth starter spot, allowed two runs and two hits in three innings.
Rays: A pair of fifth-starter candidates are to pitch in split-squad games Tuesday, Burch Smith against Pittsburgh and Matt Andriese versus Boston.
Yankees: RHP Chase Whitley is scheduled to start Tuesday’s road game against Baltimore.
Rays: Karns’ three innings came against a lineup that Yankees manager Joe Girardi said could be used in the regular season.
“It was awesome to see a majority of their starters out there,” he said.
Yankees: Starter Nathan Eovaldi followed Pineda. He allowed three hits and had five strikeouts in three scoreless innings.
Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (shoulder tendinitis) exercised but didn’t throw. … SS Nick Franklin returned from a sore left hip and was hitless in three at-bats. … John Jaso (bruised shin) is to play in left field Tuesday.
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka threw 31 pitches during a bullpen session and is to make his first start Thursday night against Atlanta. The Japanese ace missed 2 1/2 months last year while rehabilitating a partially torn ulnar lateral ligament in his right elbow. … CC Sabathia (knee surgery) has a bullpen session Tuesday and should pitch in a simulated game in a few days. … Top pitching prospect Luis Severino didn’t work out due to strep throat.
Rays pitcher Alex Colome is expected in camp Tuesday after visa problems in the Dominican Republic.
“He’ll go through a physical and get checked out, but from all of our reports, he’s been right on line,” Cash said. “He was actually facing hitters before our guys were facing hitters, so that’s a good thing.”
MARK DIDTLER, Associated Press
Source: The National Herald