Despite years of reports that Rodriguez was a standoffish, uncomfortable presence in the Yankees’ clubhouse, the tide seems to be turning. Now he’s celebrating with his teammates, playing around in the locker room and talking to the media.
It appears a whole new A-Rod is on the scene.
Of course, the big story of the postseason is Rodriguez’s resurgence at the plate. He broke through in the clutch and batted an incredible .455 with a 1.500 OPS in the three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS.
His demeanor is different as well. And this time, he’s talking to the media about it. Rodriguez claims that despite his troubles in the past, he’s “playing with no expectations.”
“I’m going out and having fun and doing the best I can,” the slugger told the Chicago Tribune.
So what’s the cause of the new-and-improved A-Rod? Sources cite everything from his new gossip-page friendly romance with actress Kate Hudson to the Yankees’ acquisition and reliance on first baseman Mark Teixeira. With Teixeira’s presence in the lineup, the team — and the media — can focus on the performance of someone other than the third baseman. It might be just the distraction Rodriguez needed.
Whatever the cause, Yankee fans eagerly await Game 1 of the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday to see if Rodriguez’s blistering output will continue or whether he will resort to his old former postseason ways. And if he does falter, will his new, carefree demeanor go as well?
Rodriguez gets another shot to continue his postseason to remember when he steps in against the Angels’ John Lackey on Friday. Rodriguez has had trouble against Lackey in the past (.176 batting average), but he hopes to change that.
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