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A-Rod enjoys a Ruthian welcome

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A-Rod enjoys a Ruthian welcome

Postby WebHamster » Tue Feb 17, 2004 3:00 pm

New York, NY (Sports Network) - With an unprecedented audience in attendance, All-Star shortstop Alex Rodriguez was presented Tuesday as the newest New York Yankee. Friend, new teammate and team captain Derek Jeter was among those in attendance for the introductory festivities Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

On Monday, baseball commissioner Bud Selig gave his approval to the mammoth deal that brought Rodriguez from Texas to New York in exchange for All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later.

During the joyous celebration for Yankee supporters Tuesday, Rodriguez conceded his desire to leave Texas hinged on his hunger to win, something the Rangers were unable to accomplish after three last-place finishes with Rodriguez on their roster.

"I've come to a point in my career where winning is the most important thing," Rodriguez said in front of more than 200 media members. "Aside from all personal accolades, I think I've done a lot there, but winning is the most important thing. And being a New York Yankee with the history, present and future, I think it provides an opportunity when you drive to the ballpark every day that you have an opportunity to win, and win big hopefully in October."

The teams worked out the agreement over the weekend, with the players' association giving its stamp of approval on Sunday. Rodriguez, the reigning American League MVP, has $179 million and seven years left on his 10-year, $252-million contract. The Rangers are going to funnel a record $67 million to the Yankees to help pay for Rodriguez's contract.

According to both parties involved, the trade wouldn't have happened unless Rodriguez was willing to make the switch over to third base, allowing fellow All-Star and friend Jeter to remain at his natural position of shortstop. The Yankees had a huge void at third base because of a knee injury suffered by Aaron Boone this offseason. Boone tore ligaments in his knee while playing basketball.

"I think we're going to make a great tag-team over there. It's going to be fun," Rodriguez commented. "I know there are going to be growing pains, but I think we're going to make a pretty good tandem."

Rodriguez' addition to the star-studded New York roster adds kindling to the fire known as the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. He was almost traded to the Red Sox earlier this offseason. However, the players' association rejected a proposed deal where Rodriguez would restructure his contract. Both teams had settled on the players involved in the proposed trade, but the players' union provided the final roadblock.

Rodriguez said he would only go to Boston with the union's approval. After the Boston deal fell through, the Rangers went out of their way to name A-Rod team captain.

Last season, Rodriguez topped the American League in home runs with 47, runs scored with 124 and also had a .600 slugging percentage. He was second in the AL with 118 RBI and finished with a .298 batting average, his lowest since 1999.

In the last 72 seasons (beginning 1932), only three players have topped the American League in home runs for three straight years. Rodriguez is one of them, joining Minnesota's Harmon Killebrew (1962-64) and Seattle's Ken Griffey, Jr. (1997-99). Rodriguez is also one of only three players in big league history with 40-plus home runs in at least six straight seasons. Babe Ruth and Sammy Sosa are the two others.

Rodriguez has been on a last-place team the previous three seasons since signing with Texas in 2001. The Yankees, meanwhile, have captured six straight division titles and four World Championships in the last seven years.

"Derek has four world championship and I want him to have 10," explained an optimistic Rodriguez.

Incredibly, at just 28 years of age, Rodriguez has hit 344 of his 345 career home runs as a shortstop, one shy of the all-time record held by Baltimore's Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken played in 2,303 games and had 8,934 at-bats as a shortstop. Rodriguez has appeared in 1,266 games at the position with 4,968 at-bats. A two-time Gold Glove winner and seven-time All- Star, Rodriguez is a .308 hitter with 345 homers and 990 RBI in his 10-year major league career.

Getting A-Rod means the Yankees will have an incredible All-Star laden lineup. With catcher Jorge Posada, first baseman Jason Giambi, Jeter, Rodriguez, leftfielder Hideki Matsui, centerfielder Kenny Lofton, rightfielder Gary Sheffield and designated hitter or centerfielder Bernie Williams in the starting lineup, the Yankees will go to bat with a total of 39 All-Star appearances.

"On paper, this is a pretty good lineup. You just want everyone to stay healthy," Jeter said. "It's going to be fun."
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