Mon, Feb 23, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Alex Rodriguez on cloud nine while at Yankee stadium


Alex Rodriguez certainly made a mark in his first workout with the New York Yankees.

More like a dent, actually.

Rodriguez's drive over the center-field fence Saturday hit a parked car, leaving a dent and blue smear on the hood of a silver Mazda in Tampa, Florida. It was one of 10 balls the AL MVP hit over the fence in 65 swings during batting practice with two minor league prospects.

"I feel like I have an injection of energy. I'm floating," Rodriguez said. "I'm still not aware of where I am right now.

"You look in the mirror and see the Yankee uniform, it's awesome," he said.

Rodriguez fielded about 50 grounders at third base, his new position, bobbling one and letting another skip under his glove. He did most of that work on his knees, drawn in close on the infield grass.

He looked smooth on some slow rollers, charging the balls and making strong, accurate, off-balance throws to first base.

"I'm fine, but you can't really tell where you are until you get into a game," he said.

Rodriguez might not be the only All-Star switching positions this season. Alfonso Soriano could be moving, too.

Traded by the Yankees to Texas for Rodriguez, Soriano was introduced as the newest member of the Rangers in Surprise, Arizona, and said he would keep an open mind about possibly shifting from second base to shortstop.

The Rangers already have a .300 hitter at second base in Michael Young, and Soriano came up to the majors as a shortstop.

"I haven't played shortstop for three years. I'm definitely more comfortable at second base," Soriano said. "I'll keep open to changes. I just want to do my best and do what is best for the team."

The past two years with the Yankees, Soriano became only the third player in major league history to hit at least 35 home runs and steal 35 bases in consecutive seasons. Willie Mays and Barry Bonds are the other two.

But Soriano knows he can't expect to replace Rodriguez.

"I don't want to put any pressure on myself to say I will hit this many home runs or do that," Soriano said. "I just want to do my best, and those things will take care of themselves."

Texas left-hander Kenny Rogers, projected as the team's No. 1 starter this season, tweaked his right hamstring and will be out two to three days.

The Rangers also finalized a US$15.25 million, five-year contract with All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock. The deal includes a club option for a sixth year.

Also in Surprise, the Kansas City Royals learned that pitcher Kyle Snyder will have shoulder surgery for the second time in six months Wednesday, putting his season in jeopardy.

Snyder went 1-6 with a 5.17 ERA in 15 starts last year. Royals general manager Allard Baird said the hard-throwing right-hander will begin the season on the 60-day disabled list, but it's unclear how long he will be out.

In Melbourne, Florida, Montreal Expos manager Frank Robinson chose right-hander Livan Hernandez to start on opening day.

In Peoria, Arizona, David Wells reported to spring training with San Diego and promised not to do too much too soon.

"You don't want to try to make the team the first day," said the 40-year-old Wells, who signed as a free agent with his hometown Padres on Dec. 31.

"It's something that you have to ease into, especially if you're coming off back surgery. It's just one step at a time, and where I'm at right now, I feel pretty good.

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