Alex Rodriguez is used to taking the field every game and making routine plays on the infield grass. However during yesterday’s 7-0 win against the Houston Astros, Rodriguez didn’t take grounders at third and instead manned a different position–first base. He made three routine plays at first before he was lifted after three innings; the plan was for Rodriguez to get two at-bats. It just so happened those at-bats came quickly.
Following the game, Rodriguez was surrounded by a barrage of reporters, asking him what were his thoughts of playing first base for the first time in his career. He had to admit it was an interesting experience.
“It was quite interesting after 20 years in the league to see the game from a totally different lens,” Rodriguez said. “It was pretty cool. … Not relieved. It was fun. Any time I get to go out and play the field and play baseball, I have a good time. I do hope, in all seriousness, that I can be an asset for Joe at some point during the year. If Tex or Chase needs a blow at some point, hopefully I can be an asset for Joe at some point.”
The Yankees were rather pleased with what they saw from Rodriguez but they also kept in mind Rodriguez wasn’t going to be manning first often. The job currently belongs to Mark Teixeira and should Teixeira go down, Garrett Jones. Still, having Rodriguez at first base provides the Yankees with more options should they lose their other first basemen to injury, but at the same time they’re not expecting Rodriguez to make flashy Gold-Glove plays.
“It’s not something we’re looking to do,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s if something happens to one of our other guys. I would feel comfortable throwing him out there. I think he can handle it just fine. The toughest things are when you get into cuts, relays and bunts, and we didn’t get into any of that today. Fielding ground balls, I’m not worried about that. Really, I’m not. Catching the ball, I’m not worried about that. I’d think he’d be pretty good around the bag, even scooping, because you get a lot of those hot shots at third base.”
So far, Rodriguez’s return to baseball has been a nice transition; he’s hitting well during the Spring and both Girardi and Brian Cashman are pleased with the way he’s presented himself in the clubhouse and on the field. One of the things Rodriguez is looking forward to this season is playing some baseball, especially after a year where he was deprived of it due to a lengthy suspension.
“I’m happy to be playing baseball,” Rodriguez said. “I’m here to play baseball, I’m here to do exactly what my bosses want me to do, and I just want to help the team win. I’ll tell you that I’m a lot more happy, fortunate, and grateful than I was 12 months ago.”