CLEARWATER, Fla. - An idea first proposed to Alex Rodriguez in October finally will become reality Sunday.
Rodriguez, who in his 20-year career has never played anywhere in the field but shortstop and third base, will start at first base Sunday afternoon in Kissimmee against the Astros, Joe Girardi said Friday.
"I'm excited," said A-Rod, who went 1-for-2 with a walk in the Yankees' rain-shortened 10-0 win over the Phillies on Friday at Bright House Field. "I told Joe to really keep a close eye on me. He said he will."
This will be only the fifth spring training start in the field for Rodriguez, 39, who played third base in the previous four.
"He hasn't played a ton of field because as I've said, I thought the most important thing was getting him at-bats and getting him comfortable," Girardi said.
A-Rod hasn't always looked comfortable at the plate but has looked better than many thought he would. Friday's hit lifted his average to .303.
"I feel I'm in a good place," said Rodriguez, whose legs got a good test in the second inning. He went from first to third on Stephen Drew's double, and when he tried to score on Chris Young's fly to right, Jeff Francoeur threw him out at the plate by about five feet.
Rodriguez has done limited work at first with infield coach Joe Espada and bench coach Rob Thomson and will do extensive drills there before Saturday's game vs. the Orioles, against whom he will DH. He'll do them while wearing a first baseman's glove. "It should be ready by Sunday, I hope," said A-Rod, who used a third baseman's glove in previous drills at first.
Though Mark Teixeira has been healthy and Garrett Jones is an adequate backup, Girardi wants to have a third option at first base for the just-in-case scenarios regarding injuries. "[I want] to give Joe as many options as he can possibly need," Rodriguez said. "I just want to be an asset to Joe all year."
Notes & quotes: Girardi made official what has been apparent for weeks: Barring injury, Masahiro Tanaka will be the Opening Day starter April 6 against the Blue Jays, ending CC Sabathia's run of six straight openers. Tanaka will be followed by Michael Pineda, Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi. It is expected that Adam Warren soon will be announced as the No. 5 starter . . . Drew, who entered the day hitting .167 with a .250 OBP, had three hits, including two doubles, and two RBIs against the Phillies . . . For all the talk about Tanaka, Pineda has been the Yankees' best pitcher. He allowed five hits and no walks in five innings Friday, struck out five and lowered his ERA to 1.32.