- Last Updated: 5:17 PM, August 1, 2010
- Posted: 1:10 AM, August 1, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- So, you have invested a lot of money in the Alex Rodriguez 600 Home Run Pool?
Get ready to pour more green into it.
"The way I am swinging now it's going to take a while," Rodriguez said after going 0-for-3 in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Rays last night at Tropicana Field. "Everybody get comfortable. A home run? I'll take a hit-by pitch, a bunt single, an error. Just get on base."
Rodriguez is 9-for-37 (.243) since hitting 599 and has one hit in 12 at-bats. Last night he walked and scored in the second, flied to right in the fourth, fanned in the sixth and popped up a 1-1 pitch down the middle in the ninth.
"His at-bats are fine, he is just missing," manager Joe Girardi said of his struggling cleanup hitter. "He will start squaring it up eventually."
When Rodriguez left The Bronx a week ago today he was disappointed he hadn't become the seventh player in history to hit 600 at home. Now, if he doesn't go deep today, he gets the chance to hit the historic homer at Yankee Stadium starting tomorrow night.
If Chan Ho Park's career ended yesterday when the Yankees acquired Kerry Woods from the Indians, the veteran right-hander was proud to have been a Yankee.
"If I am done with my career I am happy to get the experience of being a Yankee," said Park, who was designated for assignment to make room for Woods, who will join the team today.
Park, who was signed as a free agent in spring training to bolster the middle innings of the bullpen, said he thinks he still has enough to continue pitching.
"I believe I got some more," Park said.
But watching Park pitch for the Yankees it looked like the 37-year old was on empty.
In 27 games, he was 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA and gave up 40 hits in 35 1/3 innings.
"We thought we were getting a guy with perfect stuff," general manager Brian Cashman said of Park, who missed 30 games with a right hamstring injury.
Lance Berkman didn't need friend Andy Pettitte to be convinced the Yankees were a team he should want to play for. That message was in Berkman's head for a long time.
"My dad's favorite player was Mickey Mantle," said Berkman, who went 0-for-4 in his Yankees debut last night. "He is one of the reasons I am a switch-hitter. I grew up hearing about Mantle and the Yankees. I never thought this could happen. Now that it has happened, it feels good. It's a great uniform to put on."
Nick Johnson was in the clubhouse and dressed for the game. Johnson, who is on the DL recovering from right wrist surgery and working out at the minor league complex in Tampa, said he doesn't know when he will be back. But the fact that Berkman will handle the DH duties means even if Johnson is healthy, there won't be many at-bats available.
Outfielder Austin Kearns listed Johnson as the Yankee he knows best since they were Nationals teammates.
Yankees first-round pick Cito Culver was in the Yankees' clubhouse yesterday and met several players including CC Sabathia.
Culver, a shortstop, is playing for Tampa in the Gulf Coast League and is batting .243 (27-for-111).
If the Yankees make the postseason Phil Hughes' role is likely to be in the bullpen.
He will have reached his innings limit -- believed to be in the 175 range -- and he handled late-game situations well a year ago when he played a big part of the Yankees winning the World Series.
Nevertheless, in order for the Yankees to win the AL East _ they hold a two-game lead over the Rays -- or capture the AL wild card, Hughes is going to have to pitch like he did Friday night in a 3-2 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.
If Hughes averages six innings per start figure him to have nine to 10 starts remaining before he reaches the limit. By taking advantage of the five remaining days off to skip Hughes or devising a plan where he doesn't pitch across a 10-day period Hughes' innings should easily be managed.
Until the limit is reached Hughes (12-4) needs to provide the Yankees with more efforts like Friday night when he paid dearly for a fastball mistake to Matt Joyce and watched a 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 deficit on Joyce's homer.
"That's as good as he has thrown all year," Girardi said of Hughes, who allowed three runs and four hits in six innings. "He located the fastball and got the curveball going."
Hughes was impressed with the breaking stuff.
"The curveball was the best it has been all year," Hughes said.Follow @NYPostsports