A-Rod debut at first base as Yanks beat Astros 7-0
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) Alex Rodriguez played first base for the first time in his professional career Sunday, handling three chances in three innings during the New York Yankees' 7-0 win over the Houston Astros.
"It was fun," Rodriguez said. "It was quite interesting, after 20 year in the league, to see the game from a totally different lens."
The 39-year-old, who lost his third-base job to Chase Headley during a season-long drug suspension, caught Headley's throw following Jose Altuve's grounder leading off the bottom of the first.
He bobbled Evan Gattis' second-inning grounder to his right, recovered and threw to pitcher Nathan Eovaldi at first for the out, then caught second baseman Stephen Drew's throw on Colby Rasmus' two-out grounder. Yankees manager Joe Girardi took out Rodriguez after 3 1/2 innings.
"Maybe next time I'll play five innings; I know Joe is trying to ease into it a little bit," Rodriguez said. "I think the most challenging parts are going to be bunts, first and second when I have to throw across the diamond. But I'm used to throwing the ball across the diamond, so that's an asset."
A-Rod has played 1,272 games at shortstop and 1,189 at third in his big league career.
"You'd think he'd be pretty good around the bag, even scooping, because you get a lot of those hot shots around third base," said Girardi, who wants to look at Rodriguez at first base again before spring training ends.
As for using him at his new position during the regular season, the manager added: "It's not something that we're looking to do, but if something happens to one of our other guys, I would feel comfortable throwing him out there."
Rodriguez walked in the first against Scott Feldman and singled leading off the fourth. Expected to be primarily a designated hitter, A-Rod is hitting .324 (12 for 37) with seven walks, three home runs and four RBIs.
"I'm happy to play baseball," he said. "I'm here to do exactly what my bosses want me to do. I just want to help the team win. I can tell you that I'm a lot more happy and fortunate this year than 12 months ago."
Headley had a home run and three hits.
Eovaldi, the Yankees' fourth starter, allowed three hits in 4 2-3 scoreless innings, struck out five and walked none. Feldman allowed three runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Yankees: SS Didi Gregorius, who sprained his left wrist Saturday, hopes to play Wednesday.
Astros: OF L.J. Hoes is awaiting the results of an X-ray on his right wrist, which was hit by a pitch on Saturday.
Yankees: Eovaldi said he is comfortable using all four of his pitches and is getting "a lot more movement" out of his slider.
Yankees: Opening day starter Masahiro Tanaka is to make his final spring outing Tuesday against the Twins at Fort Myers.
Astros: LHP Brett Oberholtzer, who has been limited to five innings by a lat strain, hopes to pitch into the fifth inning against Toronto on Monday.