“I feel like I’m explosive,” he said. “I feel like I have an opportunity to hit the ball and drive it to all fields. I thought the last at-bat (last night) was indicative of how I’m feeling, especially lately.”
That last at-bat was a double to kick start the game-changing eighth inning. In 31 games finally back from offseason hip surgery, Rodriguez has hit .301/.388/.496. In case you’re curious, he’s a career .300/.384/.560 hitter, meaning he’s basically lived up to his career numbers except with less power, which is probably to be expected considering his age and the injury. And .496 happens to be the Yankees third-highest slugging percentage for anyone with more than 60 at-bats, so it’s not like Rodriguez can’t drive the ball.
“I don’t think you can ask him to do much more,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s had big hits. Home run (Monday), a couple of doubles (last night). He’s swung the bat really well.”
It’s also significant that Rodriguez has stayed in the lineup and on the field. If he’s the designated hitter tomorrow, it will be only his fourth DH day since coming off the DL. He hasn’t started a game at DH since August 20, which has let the Yankees keep their outfielders in the lineup. He’s skipped five games, one of which he entered as a pinch hitter, and another of which came after he’d played both ends of a double header.
Rodriguez has been productive, and he’s been available, and he’s — somewhat shockingly — actually managed to move beyond all of the off-the-field nonsense of a month ago. It’s still looming in the background, but it hasn’t come up at all lately. The Rodriguez story has become about a productive player, not a distraction.
“I just feel like I’m getting a little bit better every day,” he said. “I’m seeing the ball well, my rotation is good. You know, I just feel like I’m getting better every day.”
*** For whatever it’s worth, obviously there are many heartfelt thoughts going out to all those lives lost and forever changed by the events of this date. Go hug someone you love today.
Associated Press photo