KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -Just in case his 499th homer turns out to be No. 500, Alex Rodriguez already has the ball.
The Yankees' third baseman, set to become the youngest member of the 500-homer club, hit an eighth-inning drive off Gil Meche in Wednesday night's 7-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The ball landed in a grassy area beyond the right field fence, where it was retrieved and given to A-Rod.
Here's where it gets complicated.
On Friday, A-Rod will be on deck when the Yankees resume a suspended game against the Orioles in the eighth inning. If he homers in the completion of the suspended game, it would count as being hit on June 28, when the game began. That would make it home run No. 493 - and Wednesday night's would become No. 500.
The rule, 10.23 (d), states: ``All performances in the completion of a suspended game shall be considered as occurring on the original date of the game.''
Manager Joe Torre knows it well. His only five-hit game as a player came in 1971 - his National League MVP season with St. Louis - in a suspended game against Philadelphia.
``I had to wait a couple of months between my fourth hit and my fifth hit,'' Torre said.
A-Rod, who turns 32 on Friday, would surpass Jimmie Foxx (32 years, 338 days) as the youngest player to reach 500 homers. He would also be the 22nd to reach the mark and the second this season behind Frank Thomas.
But with the Yankees chasing Cleveland in the AL wild card race and slowly closing on Boston in the AL East, Rodriguez - who did not speak to reporters before Thursday night's game - has played down the chase for his 500th.
``Hopefully,'' he said Wednesday, ``500 comes with a victory.''
Rodriguez was scheduled to face Royals starter Jorge De La Rosa, who gave up Rodriguez's 400th career homer on June 8, 2005.
``It's a crazy thing,'' Rodriguez said. ``It's pretty unbelievable that it could actually work out that way.''
Torre said he still had not decided who will pitch when the suspended game resumes. Mike Myers was on the mound at the end of the seventh, and Torre has said he would see whether his team scores again in the eighth before making a decision.
``It'll be nice to say, 'We can use you. I know you pitched yesterday, but this is two months ago and you haven't gone for three days. You should be all right,''' Torre said with a laugh.

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