A-Rod gets homers to 3,000th hit
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 20, 2015 01:15 PM
New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez follows through on a home run for his 3,000th career hit, during the first inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on Friday, June 19, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez homered for his 3,000th career hit on Friday and smiled all the way as he jogged around the bases in the highlight so far in what's become a resurgent season for the formerly disgraced slugger.
The New York Yankees star wasted no time in reaching the milestone, connecting in the first inning on a first-pitch fastball from Detroit ace Justin Verlander.
Rodriguez became the 29th player in major league history to reach 3,000 hits, and the first since Yankees great Derek Jeter homered from the very same batter's box in 2011.
"It's a magical number," Rodriguez said after the final out of New York's 7-2 victory. "I'm very happy to be in the club."
With the crowd at Yankee Stadium standing in anticipation, Rodriguez sent a high drive to right field. He held onto the bat as he took a few steps toward first base, and right fielder J.D. Martinez bumped into the wall as he backed up.
The crowd roared as the ball sailed into the seats. Retrieving the souvenir ball might be harder for Rodriguez than hitting it. In the late innings, Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said a "professional home run catcher" wound up with the prize and "he is not intending to give it to us."
Rodriguez was greeted by teammates as he made his way to the dugout, and got a hug from manager Joe Girardi.
Rodriguez turns 40 next month. The three-time AL MVP launched his 13th homer and has enjoyed a productive year as a designated hitter after sitting out all of last season while serving a drug suspension.
"I'm enjoying this season as much as any," he said.
Rodriguez hit his 667th career home run after beginning the day with a .299 lifetime average in 21 seasons. He joined Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only players with 600 homers and 3,000 hits.
Earlier this year, Rodriguez passed Mays for fourth place on the all-time homer list and eclipsed Barry Bonds for second on the official RBIs chart.
For all his achievements, A-Rod has been a polarizing figure in recent years. While the crowd in the Bronx cheered him, there are many fans who will forever attach an asterisk to anything Rodriguez accomplishes.
Such is the baseball world in the wake of performance-enhancing drugs, where RBIs, ERAs and other huge numbers have been tainted by PEDs. Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire are among the many with Hall of Fame credentials who haven't come close to being elected because of drug scandals.
As Rodriguez ascended to becoming a perennial All-Star, many looked at him as a player who could help restore credibility to the record books while stars such as Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro were caught up in drug scandals during the late 1990s and 2000s.
But in 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids while with Texas. His involvement in the Biogenesis drug investigation near Miami, where he lives in the offseason, was a low point and it got him suspended for a year after an acrimonious appeal.
After suing MLB and the Yankees — all lawsuits have been dropped — Rodriguez returned to baseball with trepidation. But he has won back some fans in New York by being a productive player on the field and a model citizen off the diamond.
Rodriguez tied the late Roberto Clemente with 3,000 hits, and can rapidly move up the list. Craig Biggio is 21st and reachable this year with 3,060, and Cal Ripken is 15th at 3,184.
Pete Rose owns the career record with 4,256.