Relaxed Rodriguez exchanges messages with Bonds, happy to share spotlight Print
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Sunday, 05 August 2007 09:07
MLB Headline News

 NEW YORK (AP) -Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds will always have a milestone day in common, and the New York Yankees star has no problem with sharing the spotlight with the San Francisco Giants slugger.
Rodriguez became the youngest member of the 500-homer club when he went deep against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, and Bonds tied Hank Aaron's career record of 755 when he connected against the Padres that night.
Bonds left a congratulatory message right after A-Rod's homer, and the All-Star third baseman returned the favor after Bonds hit his drive.
``I guess he was watching from San Diego and then he went up and hit his, so that was pretty cool,'' Rodriguez said Sunday.
Bonds already was anticipating A-Rod's pursuit of the record.
``Alex, I'm rooting for you. I'll be there for you. I'm praying for you. It's very tough,'' Bonds said Saturday night.
Rodriguez celebrated his landmark homer by signing bats and some balls for his teammates and coaches, and also took his wife, Cynthia, out to dinner. He got a warm greeting from Yogi Berra when A-Rod came into the Yankees clubhouse Sunday morning.
A day after Rodriguez joined the exclusive club, he was still looking for one thing - the ball.
``I'm kind of just going to let it sit for a few days,'' Rodriguez said. ``It's his ball. Let him enjoy it and then go from there.''
Several media outlets reported the lucky man to emerge with the souvenir was 29-year-old Walter Kowalczyk, a graduate student at Rutgers. A-Rod said he hadn't talked to him.
``We'll see,'' he said. ``We have some time.''
Patience isn't a problem any more for Rodriguez, who connected on the first pitch he saw Saturday to become the 22nd player to reach 500 homers. His three-run drive off Kyle Davies in the first inning helped New York get off to a fast start in a 16-8 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
It was Rodriguez's first homer since he went deep against the Royals on July 25.
``You try to will yourself to try to hit a home run for the fans or just to get it out of the way. Especially in some of those blowout games, it was inevitable not to try,'' he said. ``You kind of just give in to the moment, and then you start playing baseball again.''
Rodriguez spoke with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and commissioner Bud Selig before he picked up Bonds' message after the game.
Bonds is likely to take down Aaron's record soon but the Giants slugger has his eyes on Rodriguez, saying he would be there for him if he approaches the career mark. A-Rod homered eight days after his 32nd birthday and surpassed Jimmie Foxx (32 years, 338 days) as the youngest player to reach 500.
What number Rodriguez ends up with is anyone's guess.
``If he stays healthy and stays where it's important for him, I have no clue what it could be,'' manager Joe Torre said. ``I mean he could probably play physically for another 10 years.''
Rodriguez got a rare start at designated hitter in the series finale against Kansas City, and received another standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd when he came to the plate in the first inning. He struck out, flied out to right and hit a sacrifice fly in his first three at-bats.
A-Rod can opt out of his contract after the season, and acknowledged he enjoyed the fans' enthusiastic support as he approached the historic drive.
``All of us that play this game at some point want to be appreciated,'' he said. ``But at the end of the year, that's just two different things. It did feel good to be appreciated.''

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