07/22/06 3:00 AM ET
A-Rod reaches two milestones vs. Jays
Slugger nets homer No. 450, hit No. 2,000 with one swing
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
A-Rod's three-run home run against Toronto's A.J. Burnett marked both his 2,000th career hit and his 450th homer. The 416-foot shot, which came on a 1-1 count, made Rodriguez the youngest player in baseball history to reach the 450-homer mark.
"It's exciting; that's a lot of home runs," Rodriguez said. "It's nice to do it in a park that I like and respect so much. To do it against a very good pitcher like A.J., it's pretty cool."
Rodriguez is the youngest player ever to hit 450 homers, eclipsing the mark of his former Seattle teammate, Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey was 31 years, 261 days when he hit his 450th, while A-Rod won't turn 31 until next Thursday. Rodriguez moved past Jeff Bagwell for sole possession of 32nd place on the all-time home run list.
Rodriguez also became just the eighth player to record 2,000 hits before his 31st birthday, joining Ty Cobb (29), Rogers Hornsby (29), Mel Ott (30), Hank Aaron (30), Joe Medwick (30), Jimmie Foxx (30) and Robin Yount (30).
"It's remarkable that he's only 30 years old, has 2,000 hits and 450 home runs," Joe Torre said. "I'm sure he's very proud of that, but I'm also sure that he'd rather do something on an everyday basis."
Rodriguez has been at the center of the New York baseball universe this week, thanks largely to his five errors over the past five days. Rodriguez has been booed heavily at home, and some have even gone as far as to suggest that he would be better off being traded out of the Bronx.
"You have to put it behind you," Rodriguez said of his recent defensive woes. "It's an everyday game, and this team needs me to play well in the present tense. I can't allow myself to worry; I have to focus on the present."
Those struggles, however, made Friday night's milestone home run even better for A-Rod, who was able to reflect for a few minutes on what he has accomplished during the first 11-plus years of his career.
"It's cool to come in this week," Rodriguez said. "In a week of so much criticism, it's good to get a little reminder that you've done some special things in this game from an early age. I think it's pretty cool."
Youngest to hit 450 homers
"That guy has accomplished so much in this game, so people forget that even talented players like that do struggle," Johnny Damon said. "Unfortunately, he's struggled some this week, but he'll get through it. It's just been a tough run for him."
The ball was caught by Karen Dragu of Barrie, Ontario, who was attending the game with four family members. Dragu, a Yankees fan, had no idea that the ball she caught represented one milestone, let alone two.
"I didn't have a clue," said Dragu, who was brought down in front of the Yankees' clubhouse after the game, where she and her family met A-Rod, took some pictures and each received an autographed ball in exchange for his milestone ball. "This is the ultimate."
Rodriguez may very well finish his career as baseball's all-time home run leader, as he is on pace to topple Hank Aaron's mark sometime in 2014. Rodriguez said he doesn't think about that kind of record very much, preferring instead to focus on the present.
"I'm a present-tense kind of guy. But 450 and 2,000 at the same time, that's unique," Rodriguez said. "Unfortunately I couldn't do it in a win, but I'm still going to enjoy it."
Rodriguez is the third active Major Leaguer to record his 2,000th hit with a home run, joining Frank Thomas and Manny Ramirez.
Rodriguez is the fourth member of the current Yankees team with at least 2,000 hits in his career, joining Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Gary Sheffield. Jeter collected his milestone hit on May 26.
"I'm sure he'd rather be putting a streak together than to talk about what a great milestone it is," Torre said. "It's ironic; when Jeter got his 2,000th hit, we lost that game, too."
Rodriguez is also now just three RBIs from 1,300 in his career.
A-Rod's first big-league hit came in his rookie season with the Mariners, as the 18-year-old shortstop singled against Boston's Sergio Valdez on May 9, 1994, in his second big-league game.
Rodriguez's 1,000th hit came as a member of the Rangers on May 5, 2001, against the White Sox.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.