TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Alex Rodriguez doesn't worry about spring training numbers. His teammates, nevertheless, are impressed by the third baseman's offensive start.
A-Rod homered in his third consecutive game and the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Thursday night.
Rodriguez hit his fourth home run overall, a solo shot in the second. He has an RBI in five straight games, and has a hit in all 11 exhibition games he has played in.
``I'll tell you what, this is my third season here, and I've never seen him so focused as I've seen him now,' New York right fielder Nick Swisher said. ``And I think that has to do a lot with everything going on in his life. I think he's happy. I think he's in a great place in his life, and I think that's really showing on the field.'
Rodriguez was cleared this past winter to resume this regular workout program, two years after having right hip surgery.
Swisher also did his part Thursday, putting the Yankees ahead 3-2 with a two-run homer off Mike Ekstrom during the seventh.
``It felt good, especially in a situation like a 3-0 pitch,' Swisher said.
Manny Ramirez had a sacrifice fly and John Jaso homered off Phil Hughes for Tampa Bay.
Hughes allowed two runs and four hits in six innings.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon announced that Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann and Jeremy Hellickson will follow opening day starter David Price and James Shields in the rotation.
``We like the schedule and how it sets up,' Maddon said. ``I really don't like to pick numbers. One through five, we've got guys that can win on every night. They're not going to, but I like one through five. Not every manager has that luxury.'
Price didn't make the trip, but instead pitched in a minor league game. The left-hander gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings.
Tampa Bay, which prefers not to have its starting pitchers face AL East teams in spring training, used five relievers that combined to allow three hits.
Girardi is experimenting with his lineup during the final two weeks of exhibition games. He moved Brett Gardner from ninth to first, and dropped Derek Jeter from the leadoff spot to the 2-hole. Both were hitless in three at_bats.
Maddon made a big play before the game, catching Yankees' Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who stumbled on the protective carpet behind the batting cage. Berra was OK.
NOTES: Yankees RHP Joba Chamberlain (left-side upper-body muscle soreness) threw at 60-feet on flat ground, ran in the outfield and took part in fielding drills. ``Everything was good,' Chamberlain said. ``Friday is, probably, the bigger day. How I'm going to recover.' Chamberlain could have a bullpen session on Saturday. ... New York closer Mariano Rivera said he'll pitch for third time Saturday. He has thrown two scoreless innings so far. ... A number of Tampa Bay players worked out before the game on the new AstroTurf at Tropicana Field in nearby St. Petersburg.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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