According to rule, A-Rod's 499th home run ball could become #500

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Just in case his 499th homer turns out
to be No. 500, Alex Rodriguez already has the ball.

The Yankees' third baseman, set to become the youngest member of
the 500-homer club, hit an eighth-inning drive off Gil Meche in
Wednesday night's 7-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The ball
landed in a grassy area beyond the right field fence, where it was
retrieved and given to A-Rod.

Here's where it gets complicated.

On Friday, A-Rod will be on deck when the Yankees resume a
suspended game against the Orioles in the eighth inning. If he
homers in the completion of the suspended game, it would count as
being hit on June 28, when the game began. That would make it home
run No. 493 -- and Wednesday night's would become No. 500.

The rule, 10.23 (d), states: "All performances in the
completion of a suspended game shall be considered as occurring on
the original date of the game."

Manager Joe Torre knows it well. His only five-hit game as a
player came in 1971 -- his National League MVP season with St. Louis
-- in a suspended game against Philadelphia.

"I had to wait a couple of months between my fourth hit and my
fifth hit," Torre said.

A-Rod, who turns 32 on Friday, would surpass Jimmie Foxx (32
years, 338 days) as the youngest player to reach 500 homers. He
would also be the 22nd to reach the mark and the second this season
behind Frank Thomas.

But with the Yankees chasing Cleveland in the AL wild card race
and slowly closing on Boston in the AL East, Rodriguez -- who did
not speak to reporters before Thursday night's game -- has played
down the chase for his 500th.

"Hopefully," he said Wednesday, "500 comes with a victory."

Rodriguez was scheduled to face Royals starter Jorge De La Rosa,
who gave up Rodriguez's 400th career homer on June 8, 2005.

"It's a crazy thing," Rodriguez said. "It's pretty
unbelievable that it could actually work out that way."

Torre said he still had not decided who will pitch when the
suspended game resumes. Mike Myers was on the mound at the end of
the seventh, and Torre has said he would see whether his team
scores again in the eighth before making a decision.

"It'll be nice to say, 'We can use you. I know you pitched
yesterday, but this is two months ago and you haven't gone for
three days. You should be all right,"' Torre said with a laugh.