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A-Rod plays it cool on hot start at Yankees spring training

TAMPA – Alex Rodriguez continues to downplay his solid start to the spring, though even he couldn’t deny that it’s been better than the alternative.

A-Rod went 2-for-3 with two singles and his first RBI of the spring in Monday’s 4-3 win over the Rays at Steinbrenner Field. He’s 4-for-9 with two walks in four games.

“It doesn’t really mean anything,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve played for a long time. It’s better than 0-for-9, I guess.”

With runners at second and third and one out, A-Rod hit a soft liner to left field in his first at-bat, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead. It’s been a long time since Rodriguez has driven in a run in any type of game, but he wasn’t trumpeting it as any meaningful moment.

“Nothing’s really significant this time of the year,” Rodriguez said. “I’m a run producer so I was just trying to get the run in. It doesn’t have to be pretty, just get it in.”

While A-Rod seemed uninspired by his own play, he raved about what he’s seen from Greg Bird and Aaron Judge, the Yankees’ top two hitting prospects.

“Two of the finest young hitters I’ve seen in a long time,” Rodriguez said. “You don’t see those type of young hitters come around very often. We’re lucky to have two of them. I’m very impressed.”

A-Rod has been “working on some good things” with hitting coach Jeff Pentland, admitting that “every day just feels a little bit more comfortable.”

“He looked good, he was aggressive, obviously hunting fastballs,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He looked just the same as he did two years ago, so good for him.”

Since the first day of camp, Joe Girardi has insisted that he wouldn’t judge A-Rod on his first couple weeks of at-bats, presuming he might be rusty after his lengthy layoff. But with A-Rod swinging the bat well thus far, Girardi almost can’t help but be impressed to this point.

“I think it’s impossible not to,” Girardi said. “If you’re struggling in the beginning, like a lot of our hitters are, you say it’s timing. That was my concern for Alex coming into camp; how long would it take for him to get his timing? I think he’s done a pretty good job adjusting and I want to continue to see it.”?

Having played on back-to-back days for the first time this spring, A-Rod said he felt “pretty good” and was “less sore than last week.” Girardi said A-Rod, who is off Tuesday, could be back in the lineup for home games on Wednesday and Thursday.

“The first week is always the toughest,” Rodriguez said. “So far, so good.”

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