Kevin Long said there were times these past two years when he could tell Alex Rodriguez didn’t have it. The one-time Best Player in the Game would show up in the cage, and Long could tell there was something missing.
“You could tell when he didn’t have life to his body, or there was no energy to what he was doing,” Long said. “It wasn’t that he wasn’t trying to work the right way, but he’s definitely got a lot of life now when he’s working. It’s explosive.”
Rodriguez said his big spring numbers — .404 average with six homers and 14 RBI — are simply a product of what’s happening “behind the curtain.” He’s no longer going through any sort of rehab work, and with a full training schedule, his surgically repaired hip feels more fluid and flexible. That work in the cage is carrying onto the field, and as Long said, Rodriguez might be the most season-ready player on the roster.
“It’s really hard to gauge with four swings in a night (during a game),” Rodriguez said. “But I think when you have the sessions that Kevin Long and I have – maybe 30, 40, 50 swings – I think you have a better idea of how you feel, and that’s been much better. More consistency through my swing. More flexibility. I think there’s just more explosion that I feel, and that I think he sees.”
Rodriguez said he wants to play 150-plus games this season, and Joe Girardi said that’s not out of the question. With Eric Chavez looking like a productive hitter again, it’s possible that Chavez could get occasional starts at third to give Rodriguez a few more DH days. More DH days might keep Rodriguez this fresh and healthy, and if Rodriguez is this fresh and healthy, there’s no telling how good he could be.
At 35 years old, is it possible he could return to that 2007 form?
“I slept good every night that year,” Rodriguez said. “Those are years that you look up and you’re like, ‘Holy (cow) – that’s not normal.’ It’s one of those years that you’re so flattered by and very happy about, but to use that as a barometer, that would be tough. I don’t want to set myself for failure, that’s for sure. I think overall, what I’m doing now, I’m enjoying the game and I think I’m going to help the team win this year.”
Here’s Long speaking briefly about Rodriguez’s cage work.