Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez is just one home run away from 600 for his career. Actually, he’s been one home run away from 600 for 37 at-bats now. And he’s unlikely to reach the milestone Sunday.
According to Erik Boland of Newsday, A-Rod is not in the Yankees’ lineup this afternoon against Rays right-hander James Shields despite a tight race at the top of the American League East standings.
Perhaps manager Joe Girardi has noticed that his third baseman is pressing. Rodriguez told the Newark Star-Ledger’s Marc Carig on Saturday that it might take him a while to get that elusive home run, so he’s clearly been bothered by the pressure.
“There’s no question, the way I’m swinging it, it’s probably going to take awhile,” A-Rod said with a laugh. “Everybody get comfortable.”
Rodriguez is 8-for-37 since hitting home run No. 599 on July 22 and his batting average has dropped five points. He has averaged a home run per every 14.5 at-bats for his career and has averaged a long-ball every 23.4 at-bats this season. If this power drought lasts any longer, the coverage could get very annoying.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.