Alex Rodriguez must hit or he has no worth for Yankees

TORONTO -- Just imagine if this were a year ago. If Alex Rodriguez began the season with only three hits in 22 at-bats. If his average were only .136 after a week of the schedule had passed.

If he were still perceived as an MLB outcast, there would be cries to cut him, that he can't play without the juice and probably countless other accusations. His "Cinderella season," to use his words, in 2015 has changed perception, but it is not a free pass for 2016.

Let's be clear: No one here is drawing an early broad stroke because A-Rod can change everything with a couple of quick flicks of his bat. But, a week in, it is fair to point out that A-Rod has not looked too good.

On Wednesday, he added another 0-for-4, striking out the first two times at the plate in the New York Yankees' 7-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Since Rodriguez might never pick up a glove again, he has to hit or he is pretty worthless on the 25-man roster, no matter how much of a mentor he has become.

A-Rod's early-season history is a mix bag of good and bad first six-game stretches. (He sat out the fourth game this season to rest.)

Last year, after six games, he had one homer -- as he has this season -- and a .300 average. In his career, he has hit less than .200 over the first six games on six occasions.

This supports that this might just be a blip that is apparent only because it is the beginning of the season.

The Yankees made the playoffs last year in large part because of Rodriguez's first excellent season since 2010. But is he the 33-homer, 86-RBI DH of last year or more the 14-homer, 46-RBI guy the previous three (he was, of course, suspended for 2014)?

In spring training, he hit a homer in his first at-bat and then failed to put another ball over the fence. That might not end up meaning anything or it could in hindsight be a warning sign.

Perhaps, more telling, A-Rod hit only .191 with nine homers in the final 56 games of last season.

It is all something to keep in mind. He is a 40-year-old, with two hip surgeries under his belt who ran out of gas last year. Now, he hasn't started well in the first week.