The vast majority of players use the All-Star break as a chance to unwind with their families. They take a quick little vacation or just spend time at home, something they very rarely get to do during the long 162-game season.
Alex Rodriguez has different plans. The Yankees DH is going to spend his All-Star break working out at first base in an effort to get back into the lineup and make himself more versatile. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has the details:
According to a source, A-Rod grabbed one of Mark Teixeira's first-base gloves on his way out of the clubhouse Sunday, which he'll use to take grounders at first base during the four-day break.
Rodriguez also plans to work with infield coach Joe Espada beginning Friday, the source said, as he looks to add fielding versatility to his current DH-only arsenal.
A-Rod, who turns 41 later this month and has two surgically repaired hips, has not played the field at all since last May. He played 17 2/3 innings at third base and 9 2/3 innings at first base last year. That's it. The rest of his time has been spent at DH.
The Yankees have been sitting A-Rod against righties over the last few weeks, which is understandable given his .198/.237/.333 (53 OPS+) batting line and 29.6 strikeout rate against northpaws this season. Because the Yankees played an interleague series in an NL park and saw a bunch of righties last week, A-Rod started only one of the team's last 10 games to close out the first half.
Teixeira is playing with cartilage damage in his knee and gets regular days off. The Yankees had been using utility man Robert Refsnyder at first on days Teixeira sits, but A-Rod could be an alternative there. These days Rodriguez is a right-handed platoon DH and lacks flexibility. Adding the ability to play first could get him into the lineup a little more often in the second half.
The Yankees are 44-44 at the All-Star break and 7 1/2 games back in the AL East. They're 5 1/2 games back of the second Wild Card spot with six teams ahead of them. Rodriguez is hitting .220/.260/.382 (69 OPS+) overall with eight home runs in 200 plate appearances on the nose this season.