A-Rod working out at first base in Yankees camp
The New York Yankees still aren’t sure what to expect from Alex Rodriguez this season, but it would appear they’re going to exhaust all options to find playing time just in case he proves capable of contributing.
Well, that, or maybe they’re just putting him through the wringer and trying to exhaust him outright. Either way, Rodriguez was spotted taking infield practice at first base on Friday, which would be an entirely new position for the 20-year veteran.
In fact, A-Rod wasn’t even equipped with a first baseman’s glove when he walked on the practice field at Steinbrenner Field, but Girardi still had him taking grounders and practicing fielding bunts from the position that’s opposite his regular spot at third base.
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According to ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews, the results were as you’d expect from a player learning a new position. In particular, his tosses across the diamond to third base were mostly awkward and off target. But this was only the start of an experiment that will undoubtedly continue until A-Rod proves capable or incapable of making the adjustment.
“I don’t know if and when I will do it, but I do want to get a look at it,” manager Joe Girardi said of using Rodriguez at first base in a game. “We’re going to do it, but we’re going to see how he feels, continue to talk to him, make sure he feels comfortable.”
Matthews added that A-Rod not only looked uncomfortable, he seemed to lack enthusiasm while working at first base. However, Rodriguez painted a different picture following his session.
Asked whether he felt comfortable at first, Rodriguez said: “Too quick to tell.”
“I’m anxious to learn, though,” he added.
Of course, we’re still in that phase where Rodriguez is under the microscope and has to choose his words carefully, but if he intends to make an impact he better truly appreciate and embrace every opportunity the Yankees extend to him.
As for the thought process behind the experiment, it actually makes a lot of sense. With manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman saying the every day third base job belongs to Chase Headley, Rodriguez essentially becomes a bench player who will have to battle for at-bats. Some will still come at third base. Others will come as a designated hitter. But if he proves to be an option at first base as well, it will give Girardi a lot of flexibility with his lineup and Rodriguez more at-bats.
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It would also provide some insurance in case Mark Teixeira’s injury woes continue. Over the past three seasons, the Yankees regular first baseman has missed an average of 75 games with various ailments. Though Teixeira hopes a new diet will be the key to staying healthy, there’s no way to predict what will happen on the field. If he were to go down, Rodriguez could provide the right-hander portion of a platoon along with Garrett Jones.
Those are scenarios to be considered down the road though. Right now, there are bigger questions Rodriguez’s needs to answer before determining if he’ll have a role at all in 2015. But this is still a development that’s worth monitoring, as it could potentially impact both sides in a positive way.
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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813