TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez looked much better than he did in his five previous rehab games, going 1-for-3 with a single and an RBI with Class A Advanced Tampa on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Over the six rehab games, Rodriguez is now 2-for-15 with two singles, three strikeouts and a hit-by-pitch as he works toward making a second-half return from offseason hip surgery.
With the game in a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning, A-Rod collected the RBI single after Ben Gamel doubled off Dunedin right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx to lead off the frame. Rodriguez ran the count to 2-2 before lining a fastball to left, giving the Tampa Yankees the go-ahead
In his first at-bat, Rodriguez went to a full count against Blue Jays right-hander Sergio Santos before grounding out to shortstop. The six-pitch plate appearance tied for the longest series of pitches A-Rod has seen throughout this rehab stint.
Rodriguez did not hesitate to swing in his second at-bat, swinging at a fastball on the first pitch from Bibens-Dirkx and lining out to Dunedin
second baseman Jon Berti.
WHAT IT MEANS: Coming off a weak performance Tuesday, when he looked rusty at the plate and in the field, Rodriguez demonstrated some improved bat speed, perhaps due to the half-hour of batting practice before the game. However, as he attempts to build his strength and regain timing at the plate, his biggest concern could be off the diamond, where sources have revealed to ESPN that Rodriguez will be interviewed by MLB officials this Friday about his involvement with Tony Bosch and the Biogenesis clinic in Miami.
HOME SWEET HOME: On Tuesday, Rodriguez mentioned feeling more comfortable being at the Yankees' Spring Training complex. He signed some autographs for fans before Tuesday's contest and inked a couple more for a few kids while waiting in the on-deck circle during the game. A-Rod also was able to get some hitting advice from Reggie Jackson and Pat Roessler, the Yankees' director of player development. Before Wednesday's game, Rodriguez spent a little over a half-hour taking batting practice under the watchful eye of former Yankee Marcus Thames, who is the hitting coach for the Tampa Yankees. Before collecting his run-scoring single, the approximately 2,000 fans in attendance offered up chants of "Let's go Alex" and "Come on A-Rod, you can do it." After the clean hit, the same fans roared in approval.
WHAT'S NEXT: Rodriguez said he will play "five or six innings" at third base in the first game of the doubleheader Thursday when Tampa hosts Dunedin. The scheduled start is 5:00 p.m.