Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A-Rod Takes Weekly Honors

So much for that slump.

Alex Rodriguez ended his much-publicized, much-maligned horrors at the plate the only way an MVP knows how -- by playing like one.

The Yankees third baseman ended a 4-for-35 (.114) drought with a home run barrage that earned him the American League Player of the Week Award on Tuesday.

Rodriguez hit .375 with five home runs and 11 RBIs to lead the Yankees to series victories over the Tigers and Twins, top competition from the AL Central. The 2005 AL MVP had a slugging percentage of 1.042 last week and hit four home runs against the Twins in the team's weekend series.

"He just seems a whole lot more comfortable," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I'm pleased, and obviously everybody else is, too. He makes a huge difference."

After hearing boos from Yankees fans as far away as Anaheim, the 31-year-old finally put a stop to a seemingly never-ending run of strikeouts. Rodriguez whiffed on 16 occasions during his rut, including 10 times in 15 at-bats against the Angels.

That all came to a halt, though, with a hit that didn't come close to clearing the fences.
Rodriguez blooped a two-out single on Thursday against the Tigers that tied the score and kicked off his monster week.

"It got me started," he said. "I was so happy to get that ball to land; I was like a kid in a candy store."

After that looping single, the third baseman continued to indulge his taste buds.

Rodriguez hit a home run later in the series finale against the Tigers and received a much-needed curtain call from fans at Yankee Stadium. He was brought out a day later when he hit the second of two home runs against the Twins and once more on Sunday after finishing a two-home run, five-RBI performance.

The power binge helped Rodriguez reach 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the ninth straight season.

"I've always said you want to contribute to winning, and I've been doing that lately," Rodriguez said. "I'm just feeling more comfortable, seeing the ball better. Hits make you relax."

And much of Rodriguez's recent success can allow Yankees supporters to relax all September as the club has opened a nine-game lead over the Red Sox, the second-largest gap in all of baseball.
The honor is the 10th time Rodriguez has been named the American League Player of the Week, but it is his first such award this season.

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was also considered for the distinction. He posted a .476 batting average with three doubles and three RBIs during the week.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:48 PM


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