NEW YORK -- When Alex Rodriguez reminisces about playing for Lou Piniella with the Mariners, it makes him think about the Yankees.
"In many ways, he comes from the old school of the Yankees -- the Boss and Billy Martin," A-Rod said. "They loved winning, as much as breathing, it seemed like."
While Piniella is retiring, Rodriguez is chasing history. Although his admission of performance-enhancing drug use hangs over the festivities, A-Rod entered Tuesday night at 598, two away from joining just six others in the 600 club.
He would only be the seventh major leaguer ever to hit 600, which A-Rod has played down.
"I've talked about it all along, I've always wanted to use 600 like first base," said Rodriguez. "To use it as a platform or a springboard to continue to improve my game. But for me, the whole thing as I approach 600, the whole thing that I think about is the perspective of where I was when I hit 500 and how things are different now."
A-Rod basically said he is less selfish than when he broke in as a teenager with Piniella.
"For me, early on, all I thought it was about was accumulating numbers," Rodriguez said. "Try to hit 40 or 50 and drive in 140 or 130 and hopefully make the playoffs and maybe advance, but after winning a world championship and attaining that goal you realize that it is not about that. It is about obviously winning the world championship."
While A-Rod said that Piniella was a great teacher, Rodriguez didn't pick up Piniella's overriding determination to value winning over numbers. What Rodriguez said he did learn from Piniella was discipline.
"For me, he is obviously a Hall of Fame manager," Rodriguez said. "He is a rare breed. He is a rare combination of a guy who played in New York and won a championship and was proven and was tough."