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Yankees sit A-Rod with sore calf

One night after getting hit by a pitch, A-Rod takes a night of rest
08/08/2007 9:39 PM ET
By The Associated Press

A-Rod was a target in Toronto.(AP)
TORONTO (AP) -- On the first day of his chase to overtake Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez limped around the clubhouse, an ice pack on his leg.

A-Rod was hit on his right calf by a pitch from Toronto's Josh Towers on Tuesday night and wasn't in the starting lineup for only the second time this season.

Yankees manager Joe Torre said before Wednesday night's game that he didn't expect Rodriguez to miss significant time, adding that Toronto's artificial turf played into the decision to hold A-Rod out.

"It doesn't seem to be anything the trainers are concerned about," Torre said.

Torre and Roger Clemens were ejected after Clemens hit Alex Rios in the middle of the back in the seventh. Several Blue Jays were angry at Rodriguez after he distracted Howie Clark on a key popup late in a game on May 30, yelling at the infielder as A-Rod approached third base. Toronto's Jesse Litsch threw behind Rodriguez's legs in A-Rod's first at-bat in Monday's series opener.

Rodriguez didn't take batting practice Wednesday and didn't speak with reporters. Wilson Betemit started at third base.

Bonds hit his 756th homer Tuesday night, breaking Hank Aaron's record. A-Rod hit his 500th home run Saturday, eight days after his 32nd birthday, and became the youngest player to reach the milestone.

"If he stays healthy, I'm sure he'll have a crack at hitting 800 home runs," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said.

Rodriguez will have to endure even more pressure than he already does.

"The biggest question for me with Alex is if he's going to be able to stay as passionate about the game for that long, knowing how much scrutiny he's under all the time," Torre said. "At this point in time, I'd say he'll play for another 10 years. But you never know over the years how much that wears on you. I've never seen a player get as much coverage as he does. It's unfair but it is what it is. It's not going to change and nobody's asking for it to change. It's just reality."

Since becoming a regular with Seattle in 1996, Rodriguez has only once fallen short of 140 games in a season.

"Everybody is talking about Alex being the next guy but look at what he has to do," outfielder Johnny Damon said. "He has to hit 43 home runs over the next six years or so. It's pretty hard. That's a lot. Granted, he may have more years to do it, but with the way they're paying out contracts nowadays, guys aren't going to play as long as the Aarons did or the Pete Roses did."

Torre, a former teammate of Aaron, said Hammerin' Hank "did what he felt he should do" in delivering a video message after Bonds' record drive in San Francisco.

"I'm sure Hank was torn through this whole thing," Torre said. "Hank has always been a class act. I watched him hit 8 years worth of those home runs personally. His career had never been questioned in any way. I'm sure the fact that some of Barry's stuff has been questioned sort of made him torn. I think he understands, like we all do, that Barry is a great player and he's been a great player for a long time."

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