08/02/07 12:09 AM ET
Homers aplenty, just not from A-Rod
Teammates have hit 16 out of the yard since No. 499
By Caleb Breakey / MLB.com
Meanwhile, the rest of the Yankees lineup is soaring.
With Rodriguez, 32, on the brink of making history -- he would surpass Jimmie Foxx as the youngest player to hit 500 homers -- the other players clad in pinstripes are hitting long balls left and right. A quirk of fate, perhaps?
"No, not really," Derek Jeter said. "Home runs are hard to get. He's going to hit a home run eventually. But you can't just go up there and try to hit home runs."
Rodriguez said his recent misfires at the plate would be much more frustrating if the Yankees were consistently in the losing column, but because of the team's second-half surge, winning three consecutive games and soaring to nine games over .500, A-Rod is keeping his head up.
"Guys are picking me up," the All-Star third baseman said. "They're swinging the bats incredibly well, and you kind of just want to join the parade a little bit. The most important thing here is to win."
One reason for Rodriguez's struggles could be the hundreds, if not thousands, of flashbulbs that pop while he's at the plate trying to concentrate on fastballs and breaking pitches. But, as Jeter said, "you're not looking into the stands when you hit."
Aside from the distractions and hype surrounding No. 13, manager Joe Torre said Rodriguez just needs to keep being himself, the player who has 35 home runs and 103 RBIs on the season.
"You know he's trying to get this thing over with," Torre said. "We'd all like to see it happen, but I don't care if it takes three weeks, four weeks. He just needs to play baseball. That's all."
Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bobby Abreu, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and rookie Shelley Duncan accounted for the 16 home runs since A-Rod's 499th against the Royals.
Thirteen of the 16 home runs have come in the past two days against the White Sox, which tied a franchise record previously set in a doubleheader on June 28, 1939, against the Philadelphia Athletics.
Posada, who had three long balls in the team's two homer-happy games, sympathized with Rodriguez's recent struggles at the plate. The mental battle A-Rod is facing at is a tough one, said Posada, who added that "it's just a matter of time."
The general consensus around baseball says that players never succeed when they press to hit home runs. But how could A-Rod clear No. 500 from his mind?
"Trying not to hit a home run," Posada said. "That's probably the toughest thing to do."
Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.