Via Donnie Collins -
In two statements, Alex Rodriguez seemed to give the New York Yankees nothing to think about.
Asked about his work at the plate Wednesday night, he said very simply: “Offensively, I feel like I’m there.”
Asked about the groundball he botched in the field, he said, also very simply: “Which one?”
No decision in baseball is this easy to make, of course. There are ins and outs and ups and downs and facets on top of facets to consider.
You can’t judge what a team should do for a month – especially when that month is September, and when that team is embroiled in a pennant race with a hated rival – based on what one man did on one day in Triple-A.
But rest assured, A-Rod got the DH question.
After two nights in Moosic, we know that Rodriguez can get the job done at the plate – at a high level. On Wednesday night against hard-throwing Durham lefty Matt Moore, perhaps the best pitching prospect minor league baseball has to offer, he impressively worked two walks. Then, in the eighth inning, he lined a 1-2 fastball on the outside corner to right field for an RBI single.
Rodriguez said he won’t be activated tonight when the Yankees open a series in Minnesota. But if he was, it would be fair to say he could be inserted into the cleanup spot and that he’d do a formidable job.
Fact is, Rodriguez’s best position right now is batter, which brings up an interesting question.
What do the New York Yankees need more? A third baseman? Or designated hitter who can carry the team in the middle of the order? Let’s get back to those questions later.
Offense isn’t the concern anybody has with Alex Rodriguez, obviously. Not after this rehab stint. Not even after five weeks away from the big leagues following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee July 11.
When he dropped a pair of foul popups Tuesday night, A-Rod joked that he hoped to be able to make a couple of those catches Wednesday.
Asked about his defense yet again, all he could do was offer more self-deprecating humor.
In the first inning, with runners on first and third and a chance to get youngster Manny Banuelos out of trouble, Rodriguez watched as Russ Canzler hit a grounder toward him.
It rolled through his legs. Thought he had it, he said, but shrugged as he said he didn’t even get a glove on it.
A second grounder, hit up the third base line by Brandon Guyer in the second inning, was hit a bit harder. It bounced in the dirt and skipped past him, under his glove again. “A bullet,” A-Rod called it. A play where you take one step, react and hope it gets in your glove. And it didn’t.
That’s exactly the type of play that ended his rehab assignment and sent him to Minnesota. There, he can work on his reflexes and reactions with infield coach Mick Kelleher. He can get better defensively at his own pace, out of the sight of fans and away from the pressure of a big spot in a game.
Imagine the tabloid headlines if A-Rod played this kind of defense two consecutive nights in the big leagues.
I don’t get this, at all. When Don Mattingly was a player, you could probably wake him up in December, drag him out of bed and bring him to a field, and then have someone hit a screaming ground ball at him – and he would catch it.
For someone who many claim is the greatest all-around player in the history of the game, A-Rod always seems to have these issues that require kid gloves and maintenance.