Slumping A-Rod benched for two days

MIAMI -- Alex Rodriguez's homecoming will have to wait a little longer.

Following a tumultuous month at the plate, the slumping third baseman was benched Friday for two games by the New York Yankees for what he and the team called "fatigue."

The three-time AL MVP had been set to play his first regular-season games in his hometown of Miami against the Marlins.

Rodriguez said he had reserved about 100 tickets for family and friends, including his mother, and he wasn't looking forward to telling her that the only place she'll likely see him before Sunday is the bench.

"Have to tell her to save the gas money," Rodriguez said. "She's going to be disappointed."

Rodriguez is batting .145 (8 for 55) in June. He's in an 0-for-15 slump, and is hitting .212 with nine homers and 26 RBIs. He was replaced Friday by Angel Berroa.

Teammates said they aren't worried about Rodriguez's skid.

"In terms of his struggles, everybody struggles at some point," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "If you do it at the beginning of the season, it stands out a little more because you haven't built up a foundation."

Manager Joe Girardi said he, Rodriguez and general manager Brian Cashman met after Thursday night's 3-0 loss to the Washington Nationals, which included a 5½-hour rain delay at the start. With Rodriguez's struggles, the delay and travel, the three agreed that the slugger would sit the next two games.

Girardi said Rodriguez would still be available to pinch-hit if necessary.

"We just feel that he needs a couple days physically," Girardi said. "Is he sore? No, he's not sore. But we think he's a little bit run down and that he could recharge his batteries."

Rodriguez missed the start of the season following hip surgery and had played in every game since rejoining the Yankees on May 8 in Baltimore, where he homered on his first pitch. All that followed a wild offseason that included his admission he used steroids from 2001-03.

Rodriguez said his fatigue was not related specifically to his hip, but that he does have to monitor his health and take days off when necessary. He pointed out that he was on crutches two months ago.

"We have to keep this in perspective," he said.

Rodriguez has a big following in Miami.

He was a highly touted prospect coming out of South Florida's Westminster Christian High, and committed to the University of Miami. Only a few hours before fall classes began at Miami in August 1993, Rodriguez signed his first professional contract with the Seattle Mariners, who lured him away from the Hurricanes with a $1.3 million deal.

But Rodriguez has continued a relationship with the university, donating money and showing up for appearances. The university even renamed its baseball field in his honor in February.

Rodriguez said Friday that having to sit out was necessary but wished the timing was better.

"I was looking forward to this day, honestly, for five or seven years," Rodriguez said. "It's a big disappointment."