A-Rod’s latest mile­stone is a blast

Yan­kees star reaches ca­reer mile­stone with a hit off Detroit’s Justin Ver­lan­der in the first in­ning.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS -

The Yan­kees slug­ger’s 3,000th ca­reer hit is a home run off Detroit’s Justin Ver­lan­der.

NEW YORK — Alex Ro­driguez home­red for his 3,000th ca­reer hit and smiled all the way around the bases Fri­day night, the high­light so far in what’s be­come a resur­gent sea­son for the for­merly dis­graced slug­ger.

The New York Yan­kees star wasted no time, con­nect­ing in the first in­ning on a first-pitch, 95-mph fast­ball from Detroit ace Justin Ver­lan­der.

Out of base­ball last year while serv­ing a drug sus­pen­sion, Ro­driguez be­came the 29th player in ma­jor league history to reach 3,000 hits. He was the first to do it since Yan­kees great Derek Jeter home­red from the very same bat­ter’s box in 2011.

“It’s a mag­i­cal num­ber,” Ro­driguez said af­ter the fi­nal out of New York’s 7-2 vic­tory. “I’m very happy to be in the club.”

With the crowd at Yan­kee Sta­dium stand­ing in an­tic­i­pa­tion, Ro­driguez sent a high drive to right field. He held onto the bat as he took a few steps to­ward first base, and out­fielder J.D. Martinez bumped into the wall as he backed up.

Fans roared as the ball sailed a half-dozen rows into the seats.

Re­triev­ing the sou­venir ball might be harder for Ro­driguez than hit­ting it. In the late in­nings, Yan­kees spokesman Jason Zillo said a “pro­fes­sional home run catcher” wound up with the prize and “he is not in­tend­ing to give it to us.”

Ro­driguez pointed to the crowd a cou­ple of times and blew a kiss to some­one be­hind the back­stop af­ter cross­ing the plate. He was greeted by Mark Teix­eira and other team­mates be­tween the plate and the dugout, and got a big hug from Man­ager Joe Gi­rardi.

The only other play­ers to hit a homer for No. 3,000 were Jeter and Wade Boggs.

Ro­driguez turns 40 next month. The three-time AL most valu­able player launched his 13th homer of the sea­son and has en­joyed a pro­duc­tive year as a des­ig­nated hitter af­ter re­turn­ing from his sus­pen­sion.

“I’m en­joy­ing this sea­son as much as any,” he said.

Ro­driguez hit his 667th ca­reer home run af­ter be­gin­ning the day with a .299 life­time av­er­age in 21 sea­sons. He joined Hank Aaron and Wil­lie Mays as the only play­ers with 600 homers and 3,000 hits.

Ear­lier this year, Ro­driguez passed Mays for fourth place on the all-time homer list and eclipsed Barry Bonds for sec­ond on the of­fi­cial RBI chart.

Un­like with home run No. 660 that tied Mays, there was no mar­ket­ing agree­ment be­tween Ro­driguez and the Yan­kees re­gard­ing this mile­stone — and thus, no po­ten­tial squab­ble over $6 mil­lion. The team even tweeted up­dates through­out his pur­suit, us­ing the hash­tag #AROD3K.

Al Bello Getty Im­ages

ALEX RO­DRIGUEZ is all smiles af­ter big hit.

Frank Franklin II As­so­ci­ated Press

THE YAN­KEES’ Alex Ro­driguez hits a home run for his 3,000th ca­reer hit dur­ing the first in­ning against Detroit.

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