John Harper is one of my favorite local writers because he often seems more interested in what is happening on the field than what goes down behind the scenes. Today, he accurately describes Alex Rodriguez's swing:
He makes it look easy. The swing is too smooth for a home run, especially when A-Rod hits it to right-center, his true power slot, as he did yesterday. There is none of the violence that Sheffield or Jason Giambi bring to a home-run swing. Often it doesn't look like it's gone as it leaves the bat.
"A lot of times," A-Rod was saying yesterday, "it looks like a fly ball. But it just keeps going."
...A-Rod says it is as much a learned skill as it is a natural gift that goes back to his days in Seattle, when he hit with Edgar Martinez for hours at a time, absorbing everything the long-time Mariners' DH had to offer.
Rodriguez does have an easy swing. It is so smooth that sometimes it isn't exciting to watch. He's like a cyborg. But how can you argue with the results?
Speaking of great hitters--but one with a distinct cut--the Yankees received good news regarding Gary Sheffield's right thumb: he won't need surgery...yet. Apparently, Sheffield played just fine after he tore ligaments in the thumb last summer (the numbers back this up), and he's ready to get back in the line up. According to the New York Times:
Braves Manager Bobby Cox said he did not remember Sheffield's injury and was not surprised to hear that Sheffield would keep playing.
"He'll be in there, believe me," Cox said. "He's as tough as they come. Gary never complains about anything. He'll play. If the bone ain't showing, you're playing, right?"
...Sheffield's final numbers last season — .330, 39 homers, 132 runs batted in — bolster his case for playing through pain. In a statement, George Steinbrenner, the Yankees' principal owner, called him "one tough cookie," and Cox said the Yankees should be grateful to have him.
"Gary had as good a season as I've ever seen a hitter have," Cox said. "He just hit everything like a rocket the whole year. If they want to give him to us, we'll take him."
The Yankees are usually cautious when it comes to dealing with injuries, and they will continue to evaluate Sheffield as the spring rolls along.
In addition, Brian Cashman met with Mariano Rivera's agent yesterday. Rivera would like to sign a contract extension before the regular season begins.