BOSTON — The Red Sox are well aware of Alex Rodriguez’s résumé.
Rodriguez arrived at Fenway Park on Friday sitting on 659 career home runs, one shy of tying Willie Mays for fourth place on Major League Baseball’s all-time list. A-Rod wasn’t penciled into the New York Yankees’ starting lineup for the series opener, but the Red Sox have been paying attention to the slugger’s productive season and his continued quest to etch his name among the game’s greats.
“He’s clearly in some select company,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Friday’s contest. “(Home run) 660 being the next one, those are lofty numbers. And it just suggests and clearly points to a long, really productive career by a really, really good player.”
Rodriguez entered the weekend series hitting .232 with five homers, 13 RBIs and an .876 OPS this season. The controversial star has struggled of late, but it’s hard not to be impressed by his overall production, as he’ll turn 40 in July and is coming off a season-long performance-enhancing drug suspension. A-Rod has eclipsed the 100-game mark only once since 2010.
“What we saw in spring training was good bat speed,” Farrell said. “Despite the lengthy time off, he’s certainly been able to carry that into the start of the season. Even in the series in New York, we got hurt with some fastballs early in the count where there were RBI situations.
“A really good player that you don’t bet against, and he’s in pretty short order come back to a very productive hitter.”
Rodriguez’s career numbers — especially his home run total – will forever be tainted by his link to steroids. Farrell refused to dive into the legitimacy of Rodriguez’s accomplishments before Friday’s game, though. The Red Sox have a job to do amid their battle with the Yankees atop the American League East.
“I don’t know. I don’t really worry about the public perception,” Farrell said of Rodriguez’s accolades. “We see him as an opponent and how are we going to get him out?”
Thumbnail photo via Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports Images