TAMPA, Fla. - Count Yankees ownership among those pleased with what they've seen this spring from Alex Rodriguez.
"Very happy," co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner told a small group of reporters as he left the stadium named for his father after the Yankees' 10-6 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday.
The 39-year-old Rodriguez, coming off a season-long suspension for PED use and his involvement in Biogenesis, continued his hot Grapefruit League start, hitting his first homer, a long solo blast to left-center in the fourth inning off righthander Brandon Workman on an 88- mph fastball.
Rodriguez, who started at third base and made a nice play from behind the bag, went 1-for-2 to improve to 5-for-11 (.455) with two RBIs.
"I just talked to Reggie [Jackson] today and he's very pleased, confident [in A-Rod]," Steinbrenner said of Jackson, a guest instructor.
"I'm not surprised with the hitting," Steinbrenner continued. "We'll see if that hopefully continues . . . it's encouraging. He's done everything that's been asked of him so far. That's the bottom line."
After going 2-for-3 Monday, Rodriguez downplayed his fast start, saying "Nothing's really significant this time of year."
While not breaking out cigars over Wednesday's homer, Rodriguez wasn't quite as dismissive. Perhaps it is because of all the questions surrounding what he has left; power and his ability to drive the ball is at or near the top of most people's list.
"I was very happy, I haven't hit a ball like that in a long time, almost two years," said Rodriguez, whose last homer in a big-league game came Sept. 20, 2013, at the Stadium, a grand slam off the Giants' George Kontos. "I am just happy I hit the ball on the barrel . . . It feels good, I am happy I can contribute but, again, it's early March and let's see what happens."
Joe Girardi has stressed that he isn't making much out of early spring results for Rodriguez but acknowledged the once-feared slugger might take some confidence from proving to himself he can still drive a ball out of the park.
"Maybe there's some significance to it [for him]," Girardi said.
Of primary significance to Rodriguez yesterday was a pregame conversation he had with Gene Michael, a club vice president and special adviser to general manager Brian Cashman.
"I had a great conversation with Stick before the game and he gave me some good words of wisdom and it was helpful and I was definitely grateful," Rodriguez said. "That's what is great about playing here in New York, that you get to talk to some of the smartest minds on the planet and obviously I have all the respect in the world for a guy like Stick Michael. We spoke before and a little bit after and I can just say it was an awesome conversation."
As he left the ballpark, Michael, 76, indicated there wasn't much to it beyond a pep talk.
"He asked me, do I see anything? I said, 'I believe in you as a hitter, I think you can hit. I don't think that will be a problem,' " Michael said. "He's already showing he can get the bat to the ball, he's not far off. I'm surprised. I thought, being [away] like that, he'd come off the ball a little more . . . he knows how to hit. He just needs to play. He needs a lot of at-bats, but that's coming. He can get the bat out in front. He did it today."