LOS ANGELES -- The Yankees had a feeling that good things were coming for Alex Rodriguez, who flicked his wrists with powerful strokes earlier this week and has now homered in two of his last three games.Rodriguez's homer totals have been off target this year as the slugger continues to climb toward being the seventh member of baseball's 600-homer club, but a surge may be around the corner. His sixth-inning blast on Friday off the Dodgers' Vicente Padilla gave him 10 for the season and 593 lifetime. "It's a little better," said Rodriguez, who pointed to the June 18-20 Subway Series as a turning point. "I had a couple of good swings in that series that I felt good about. I've been doing a lot of work with Kevin Long every day and little by little, I'm getting a little better." Rodriguez has five hits in his last 10 at-bats and has shown no signs to indicate that his right hip flexor tendinitis is affecting him at the plate. "Power is something that I never worry about," Rodriguez said. "I do like hitting my first-inning double [Friday], that was good contact, driving in runs. The power is going to be there." The Yankees plan to give Rodriguez a day as a designated hitter once they return to American League rules on Tuesday, but Rodriguez is expected to play at third base for the rest of their stay in Los Angeles. "I'm not as consistent as I want, but it's getting better," Rodriguez said.
Birthday boy Jeter still amazes at 36
LOS ANGELES -- Derek Jeter passed by the dugout on his way to the clubhouse on Saturday morning, clutching a cup of Starbucks coffee, and his presence did not go unnoticed. Joe Girardi interrupted his media session to wish the captain a happy birthday."Thanks, guys," Jeter said. "You're very kind." Jeter officially turned 36 at the stroke of midnight on Saturday, and the milestone represented another opportunity to crunch numbers related to his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only players to accumulate more hits than Jeter (2,834) at their 36th birthday were Henry Aaron (2,956) and Robin Yount (2,868). "I'm not going to look at him as 36," Girardi said. "I'm going to look at him as still a kid because we expect him to play almost every day. It's hard to believe he's 36 years old." Girardi mentioned that it is just as difficult to grasp that Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada are 38, and the timeless Mariano Rivera is 40. "It blows me away because when I first saw them they were just kids," Girardi said. "They were babies in the baseball world. Now they're like I felt when I was playing."
Aceves, Mitre making solid progress
LOS ANGELES -- The Yankees have received good reports on pitchers Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre, both of whom are rehabilitating at the club's Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., and will attempt to throw off mounds on Monday.Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he believes Mitre, who went on the disabled list on June 15 with a strained left oblique, might be closer. Aceves has been out since May 12 with a strained lower back, enduring an additional setback during rehab. Additionally, outfielder Marcus Thames is taking batting practice and running the bases under controlled conditions at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, though he is not yet set for games. Thames went on the DL on June 13 with a strained right hamstring.
Yanks pause to take in World Cup
LOS ANGELES -- The cramped visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium allowed the Yankees to have a cozy World Cup viewing party on Saturday morning, as Bombers players and staff cheered on the United States as they played out their 2-1 loss to Ghana.Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ramiro Pena were among the earliest-arriving players who found seats for the game, glued to the action. When Landon Donovan tied the score with a penalty kick in the 62nd minute, the roar was so loud that Joe Girardi popped out of his manager's office, grinning. "Guys are really into it in there," Girardi said. "My TV was like two seconds ahead and I yelled, but no one reacted. I guess I didn't yell loud enough." Chamberlain was impressed by Ghana's athleticism at one point, reacting to a rush on the goal by exclaiming, "These dudes are unbelievable!"
Nick Swisher offered Donovan unsolicited advice for his penalty kick, screaming, "You've got to go bottom right. Make it rain!"Girardi said that he certainly isn't the biggest soccer fan in the clubhouse, but mentioned that Alfredo Aceves had been cheering wildly for Mexico before leaving the team on a rehab assignment. Girardi said that the most noticeable aspect of the World Cup, for him, was the ever-present vuvuzelas. "The buzzing kind of drives me crazy," he said.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.