It would be an overstatement to say that Alex Rodriguez struggled the past two seasons. The future Hall of Famer did hit 30 homeruns in both ‘09 and ’10, and he reached the 100 RBI plateau in both campaigns as well. Still, A-Rod’s standards are just that much higher than everybody else’s. Rodriguez is set to bounce back with a big year in ‘11 now that he’s finally feeling fully healthy for the first time since undergoing surgery two years ago. Rather than having to focus on rehabbing, A-Rod has been able to actually train this offseason and spring training. And the results look promising as we get set to begin the new season on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Rodriguez joined The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio New York to talk about the Yankees’ spring training, what he expects of himself and the team this year, and other topics ranging from Derek Jeter’s pursuit of 3,000 hits to him finally feeling comfortable in his own skin in New York.
If he’s felt as good as he has since undergoing surgery:
“I think that’s a better question for me at the All Star break probably. But I certainly feel as good and as strong as I’ve felt probably since ’06-’07.”
If he has set a goal of returning to play somewhere between 150 to 155 games this coming season:
“Well I think that’s always a goal to be out there as much as possible. When you hit in the middle of the lineup and you’re an important part of the team and the lineup, you need to be out there with your team each and every day. That’s our first goal. I think Joe (Girardi) and I have talked about it, and it would be great if we could get it up to 150 games. That would be fantastic.”
On how important spring training can be in terms of helping prepare to play a full slate of games:
“I think so. You hear so many guys say after three weeks I’m ready to go. But I’m one that thinks that spring training is important. Every day is important. I think we’ve had great weather this year, we’ve been outside every day with exception of two — today being the second. The weather’s been warm, we’ve gotten a lot of good work outside and inside. I enjoy spring training. I think it’s been great.”
On how much fun he thinks it will be to watch Derek Jeter close in on 3,000 career hits this season:
“Well it’s going to be very exciting. I’ve played with Derek now for, it will be my eighth year. And it’s just so exciting to be a part of something so special. Last year Michael, maybe Friday night, the day before I hit the 60oth homerun, I remember being in the tub and Derek and I were talking, and he actually said ‘hey, in your first at bat, maybe try bunting.’ And I said ‘yeah, maybe I’ll do that.’ It was just a way of him basically relaxing me. And then he goes off and either gets a base hit or walks in the first inning, and then I hit the two-run home run off the centerfield wall. He’s at home plate waiting for me and he’s just smiling. So you get to be a part of it even when you’re not hitting it, you know what I mean?”
If he’s put much thought yet into reaching career home run No. 700:
“No, not really. You’ve gotten to this point by kind of thinking about one pitch at a time, one game at a time. But I think when you start nearing certain milestones, people like yourself start talking about it a lot, and then you start thinking about it a little bit. But at the end of the day, our only goal here is to win a championship and hang No. 28.”