A-Rod hopes No. 600 is birthday present
One homer shy of milestone, slugger turns 35 on Tuesday
CLEVELAND -- Alex Rodriguez will ring in his 35th birthday still sitting on 599 home runs, as the Yankees slugger went hitless in four at-bats on Monday against Indians pitching at Progressive Field.
Needing just one home run to become the seventh member -- and the youngest -- of baseball's 600-homer club, Rodriguez was turned aside for the fourth consecutive game and his first away from Yankee Stadium as he pursues the milestone.
"I'm not really concerned about it," Rodriguez said. "It's going to come, whether it's this week, next week or next month. At some point it will come. I think the important thing for me is to stay within the game, take my walks, and it all comes back to the same fundamentals. There's nothing new."
Rodriguez entered play Monday 6-for-13 (.462) with two doubles and four RBIs since hitting No. 599 on Thursday off the Royals' Robinson Tejeda, but his chase hit a speed bump as the Bombers opened their seven-game trip.
He said he was suffering no ill effects from the hit-by-pitch he took from Royals hurler Blake Wood in the eighth inning on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, which forced him to leave New York's 12-6 victory.
"The hand's good," Rodriguez said. "The hand's really good."
A-Rod waved at a 79-mph Jake Westbrook curveball for a strikeout in the first inning Monday, then lined into an unorthodox double play in the fourth inning as umpires ruled Trevor Crowe snared Rodriguez's low line drive, doubling off Mark Teixeira to end the inning.
"That was a short-hop, not a trap," Rodriguez said. "I think Tex did a great job of reading that ball. I think he came up trying to get the force play at second. If he would have caught it, the reaction would have been to try to get Tex out at first, not at second."
Rodriguez had another at-bat against Westbrook in the seventh inning, grounding out to shortstop, and a two-run showing by New York in the eighth set up Rodriguez's final appearance in the ninth.
With flashbulbs flickering on each pitch from Chris Perez, who served up a grand slam to A-Rod on May 31 in New York, Rodriguez could not improve on his 10 career home runs at Progressive Field, popping out to first base.
"I think the biggest thing for us is that I'd rather not hit a home run and win than hit a home run and lose," Rodriguez said. "Westbrook threw the ball really well, so did Javy [Vazquez], and it was just a great win for us."
With his next home run, Rodriguez is in line to become the youngest player to hit 600 home runs. Babe Ruth hit his 600th after 36 years and 196 days, so Rodriguez still has plenty of time to play with.
Ruth reached the milestone quicker, hitting No. 600 in his 6,921st at-bat. According to SABR's David Vincent, Rodriguez's pace (8,658 at-bats entering play Tuesday) trails that of Barry Bonds (8,212) and Sammy Sosa (8,637), but it eclipses Ken Griffey, Jr. (9,042), Willie Mays (9,514) and Henry Aaron (10,009).
Yanks tab Moseley over Mitre on Thursday
CLEVELAND -- The Yankees have shuffled their rotation for their series against the Indians, tabbing Dustin Moseley to make Thursday's start in place of Sergio Mitre.
Filling the role of spot starter, Mitre was hit hard by the Royals on Saturday at Yankee Stadium, allowing seven runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings, his first appearance since returning from the disabled list and a strained left oblique.
"We tried to prepare Serge to start, and I just didn't see the crispness necessarily in his pitches," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I don't think he's physically ready. He probably could have used some more time, so we're going to try to get him right in the bullpen."
Moseley steps into the role vacated by an injury to left-hander Andy Pettitte, and Girardi believes the 28-year-old right-hander should be more built up in terms of stamina.
Moseley has a 4.22 ERA in four relief appearances for New York, spanning 10 2/3 innings, but he has also made 12 starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Meanwhile, Mitre will be available to the Yankees in a role as a long reliever beginning Wednesday.
"I think he's disappointed, which I would expect," Girardi said. "[Starting is] what he wants to do, and I understand that."
Returning to Cleveland not awkward for CC
CLEVELAND -- A trade spared CC Sabathia the awkwardness of plotting to leave Cleveland as a free agent, which might have helped and made the reception "very mixed" when the left-hander started at Progressive Field last season wearing Yankees gray.
That is preferable -- of course -- to what LeBron James will likely be hearing the next time he sets foot within city limits, Sabathia agreed. He had not yet seen the bare downtown building that once showcased a huge mural of the NBA star, but thought it would be a strange sight.
"It had been up there for a while," Sabathia said.
That might be the oddest part about the whole experience of starting against the Tribe on Tuesday for Sabathia, who considers taking the mound here to be mostly old hat at this point.
The uniforms and stadium personnel might be familiar, but even moreso than when he won in Cleveland last May 30, the Indians for whom Sabathia won a Cy Young Award are mostly gone.
"Even last year, I didn't really know a lot of guys," Sabathia said. "They had traded a bunch of guys, and it really wasn't the same roster. I didn't really feel any different. It's still a little weird coming in through the players' parking lot and walking down, and coming into this [visiting] clubhouse, but as far as facing that team, I think it's just like facing any other team."
Joba Chamberlain is still in place as the Yankees' eighth-inning reliever. Joe Girardi said that he would "probably lean toward Joba" over Dave Robertson if the Yankees need big outs in the eighth inning. ... Alfredo Aceves (strained lower back) and Damaso Marte (left shoulder inflammation) both played catch at Progressive Field on Monday. Aceves is scheduled to throw a bullpen Tuesday; there is no timetable yet on Marte. ... Alex Rodriguez's hit total of 2,629 entering play Monday is the most by a player prior to turning 35 since Robin Yount (2,733).
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.