NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez is in a good place. He’s breaking records and, maybe more surprising, on solid footing with the New York Yankees.
Who saw this coming?
The three-time MVP hit a three-run homer to break Lou Gehrig’s American League record for RBIs, and the Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2 Wednesday to finish a three-game sweep.
“I’m happy. I’m having fun,” said the 39-year-old Rodriguez, who sat out last season while serving a drug suspension.
“I think for me in a weird way the time off was a blessing in disguise. I was able to get some rest, change my workout regimen a little bit. I just feel like I’m in a better place and more explosive than I’ve been.”
Earlier this season, A-Rod passed Willie Mays (660) for fourth place on the career home run list. With No. 665 on Wednesday, he ended his season-worst homer drought at eight games and increased his career total to 1,995 RBIs. The Yankees said that’s two more than Gehrig gets credit for from the Elias Sports Bureau, baseball’s official statistician.
“You see the guys that he’s passing, and it’s really pretty amazing,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s longevity, but it’s also being productive for an extremely long time.”
Records get tricky when it comes to runs batted in, partly because RBIs did not become an official stat until 1920. So while baseball-reference.com lists Gehrig with 1,995 RBIs and Babe Ruth with 2,214, Elias puts Rodriguez ahead of both of them and behind only Barry Bonds (1,996) and Hank Aaron (2,297).
“I’m a kid who came out of Miami,” A-Rod said. “I never imagined that I would play in the big leagues, certainly not passing my personal hero in Babe Ruth. All of us who love baseball, he is our super hero.”
Rodriguez’s 11th homer of the season plus a single in the seventh left him 19 hits shy of 3,000.
“You see it all. You think about it. But right now, it’s about wins,” Rodriguez said. “We desperately needed these three wins against a great team. That’s a team over there that hopefully we’ll see in October.”
Rodriguez also pointed out he was “extremely grateful” to hear supportive comments last week from Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, who said the slugger has been “a great asset.”
“It certainly made me feel a lot more welcome, and I wouldn’t be here breaking these records if he didn’t give me a chance playing on his team,” Rodriguez said.
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