A-Rod joins 3,000-hit club with HR off Verlander

Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer

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    Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez joined Hank Aaron as the only two players in baseball history to collect more than 600 home runs, 2,000 RBIs and now 3,000 hits.

And Rodriguez did it in style.

He achieved his latest milestone in his first at-bat Friday night, belting a first-pitch, 95 mph fastball from Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers into the right-field stands at Yankee Stadium.

Rodriguez was hugged by Mark Teixeira, the on-deck hitter, and greeted on the field by all his teammates, who flooded out of the dugout as he crossed home plate as the crowd stood and cheered.

  • The tragedy of Alex Rodriguez, newest member of the 3,000-hit club, has less to do with a failing of character than a failing of confidence.

  • The 29th member of the 3,000-hit club got there in a memorable way on Friday night. We break down the numbers behind the milestone.

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On the scoreboard, the Yankees flashed a message: “CONGRATULATIONS, ALEX. 3000.”

It was reminiscent of the scene on July 9, 2011, when Derek Jeter reached the 3,000-hit milestone — also on a home run and also off a former Cy Young Award winner, David Price, at the time a Tampa Bay Ray but now a teammate of Verlander’s with the Tigers. Wade Boggs is the only other player with a home run for hit No. 3,000.

The home run was No. 667 of Rodriguez’s career and his 2,003rd RBI. It was the fourth straight game he’s had a home run against Verlander.

The solo shot gave the Yankees a 1-0 first-inning lead. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it was calculated at 373 feet, meaning it only would have been a home run at Yankee Stadium.

It was also Rodriguez’s only hit of the game. He went 1-for-4 in the Yankees’ 7-2 win — the team’s third victory in a row. 

On Thursday night, Rodriguez set himself up for the historic at-bat with singles in the first and fifth innings off Miami Marlins starter Mat Latos. Rodriguez lined out in the sixth inning, and the Yankee Stadium crowd booed lustily when Marlins reliever Sam Dyson walked Rodriguez on four pitches in his final at-bat in the eighth inning.

Alex Rodriguez connected for a first-inning home run Friday night, giving him career hit No. 3,000. Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Due to his suspension and injuries, it took Rodriguez the longest amount of time to go from hit No. 2,500 to No. 3,000 of the 29 players to reach the milestone. He picked up hit No. 2,500 on Sept. 2, 2009. In addition to the 162-game suspension that cost him the 2014 season, Rodriguez, who turns 40 at the end of July, has missed significant time due to surgery on both hips.

It has been a remarkable season for Rodriguez, who came to spring training unsure if he would make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster and concerned about how he would be received. With three years and more than $ 60 million remaining on his contract, the Yankees reluctantly took him back for 2015. He has been a productive player, batting third most games as the designated hitter.

The 3,000-hit accomplishment comes with less strings than when Rodriguez tied Willie Mays for fourth place on the career home run list with 660 earlier this season. The Yankees and Rodriguez have a milestone bonus agreement that could be worth $ 6 million, but the Yankees contend they have the right to trigger the deal and so far have not. The two sides have agreed to handle the disagreement during the offseason. Eventually, it might end up in the hands of Major League Baseball arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who rejected Rodriguez’s appeal of the Biogenesis suspension in January 2014.

Unlike the $ 30 million in possible milestone home run bonuses when Rodriguez signed his 10-year, $ 275 contract with the Yankees in 2007, there were no side deals made to compensate him for reaching 3,000 hits.

As a result, the Yankees have been far more receptive to commemorating the achievement, running a logo on YES Network broadcasts every time Rodriguez gets a hit to track his pursuit of the milestone.

Before Thursday’s game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Rodriguez’s pursuit felt a little different than the 660 home runs because there is no extra controversy with it.

“I find it very impressive that anyone could get 3,000 hits, no matter what the circumstances are,” Girardi said. “I think it is a different feel because there are no records. Obviously, it is a pretty elite club, but there is no record to it. There is nothing attached to it. It is a big number.”

Accumulating 3,000 hits once meant automatic induction into the Hall of Fame but no longer does. Rafael Palmeiro, who reached 3,020 hits, fell off the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s ballot due to his failed performance-enhancing drug test.

Rodriguez is the second Yankee to reach 3,000 hits. Jeter picked up his 3,000th in 2011. Unlike Jeter, Rodriguez accumulated his hits with more than one club (Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and the Yankees).

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