Rome's Rodriguez hits for the cycle
Braves farmhand caps feat with walk-off homer in 10th
Gerry Rodriguez wasn't swinging for the fences, although his screams down the first-base line may have said otherwise.
"When I hit it, I yelled, 'Get out ball, get out!'" Rodriguez said. "And it was out. It went far."
Rodriguez hit for the cycle Wednesday, capping the feat with a walk-off homer in the 10th inning that gave the Rome Braves a 4-3 victory over the Greenville Drive and a split of their doubleheader.
The 21-year-old first baseman went 4-for-5 with three RBIs. He hit a two-run triple in the first, doubled in the third, singled in the fifth and ripped his ninth homer leading off the 10th off fellow Dominican Felix Ventura.
"It feels good, I'm very proud," said Rodriguez, a former Yankees farmhand. "I try to hit the ball the other way and I just reacted to that fastball."
It was the third cycle in the Minor Leagues this season -- Cedar Rapids' Gabe Jacobo performed the feat most recently on May 9 against Quad Cities.
Rodriguez's teammates were already jumping around home plate when he arrived. The 6-foot-1 infielder said it was the most exciting moment of his career.
"They waited for me at home plate, jumping," Rodriguez laughed. "It was going through my mind -- I knew we needed a home run, but I just put a good swing on he ball. But I don't try to do it, I just put a good swing on it."
It was Rodriguez's most productive effort since he slugged his last homer and drove in five runs on May 11 against Asheville.
Rodriguez, who signed with the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in 2004, spent last summer with Rookie-level Danville in the Appalachian League, batting .253 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs in 58 games. He earned a promotion to Class A Rome to begin the 2009 campaign and responded well, hitting .316 with five homers and 15 RBIs in April.
"Last year, I tried to hit the ball every pitch out of the park," said Rodriguez, who struck out 67 times in 221 at-bats with Danville. "When I was in my offseason, I tried to be more consistent to make contact this season."
He maintained that approach Wednesday, getting the clutch long ball without trying, he said.
"No, I don't do that," explained Rodriguez, who became the first player in team history to hit for the cycle. "I thought we needed a home run, but I didn't think I'd hit a ball out of the park."
Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.