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Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Pregame notes: Crickets greet Alex's 650th

By Wallace Matthews

TORONTO -- If Alex Rodriguez hits his 650th home run and no one notices, did it really happen?

Well, it did happen Monday night, but there was no mention of it at the Rogers Centre on Monday night, or in Joe Girardi's postgame press conference, or from A-Rod himself, who left the clubhouse following the Yankees' 5-2 loss without speaking to reporters.

And even Tuesday, Rodriguez virtually had to be blocked from leaving the clubhouse so the beat crew could lob a few softballs at him about the milestone.

"It's hard to reflect on it right now," Rodriguez said before the Yankees-Blue Jays game, the second of this three-game series. "We're in the middle of a pennant race and we need wins like oxygen right now. I think at some time, there will be a time and a place to appreciate that. But it's probably not right now."

"I haven’t seen where 50s have been celebrated," Girardi said. "Hundreds have, or maybe when you pass a guy who’s in front of you. But it’s not every day you see someone hit 650. But it seems like the hundreds are the ones people concentrate on more."

Rodriguez had been booed, loudly, every time he came to bat Monday night, and in fact, the boos following the home run -- only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays have hit more -- were even louder than the boos that preceded it, which did not seem all that out of the ordinary for an internationally-detested player hitting a homer in a visiting ballpark.

But the milestone itself was pretty much greeted with a collective shrug of the shoulders. Girardi was asked if he thought the non-reaction was a result of all the recent negative publicity surrounding A-Rod's involvement in the Biogenesis scandal and the 211-game suspension, currently under appeal, handed down by Bud Selig.

"It could," Girardi said, "But as I said, I haven’t been around for many guys hitting 650. I don’t remember him celebrating 550."

Just a reminder -- when, and if, A-Rod reaches 660 to pull even with Mays for fourth on the all-time list, the Yankees are contractually obligated to play him a $6 million bonus on top of the $28 million they are already paying him this year.

"I’m sure the fans don’t get really caught up in the bonus," Girardi said. "Many of them probably aren’t aware unless someone writes something."

In other notes:

• Girardi said he was giving Ichiro Suzuki "just a day" against left-hander J.A. Happ, even though it was pointed out to him that Ichiro had excellent numbers against Happ, hitting .625.

"It's only seven at-bats," the manager said. Funny, three days ago Girardi put Suzuki into the lineup against lefty David Price because, he said, "He's had good at-bats against him."

Yeah. Three of them.

• Girardi said A-Rod and Derek Jeter both came out of Monday night's game OK despite playing on the hard Rogers Centre turf, which, the manager said, "Is a little easier on your body than the turf of old." And yet, in the Yankees' clubhouse here there is a handwritten message on the bulletin board: "Remember! No running on the turf!"

• Girardi said he had not given any more thought to removing Phil Hughes from his rotation following Monday's shaky outing. But when the question was put to him another way -- "Will you use the off-day [on Thursday] to readjust your rotation?" -- Girardi said, "We’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see what happens, make sure people are OK, and see what we do." So it sounds like that is still a possibility.

• Tuesday night's starter, Andy Pettitte, is 24-13 lifetime against the Blue Jays with a 4.04 ERA. Here at the Centre, Pettitte is 16-6, with a 3.83 ERA, and he is 6-1 with a 3.04 ERA in his past eight starts against the Blue Jays, dating back to 2009.

• Happ is 2-1 lifetime against the Yankees with a 5.46 ERA, and lost to them, 5-3, five days ago at Yankee Stadium, allowing four runs in 5-1/3 innings.