A-Rod to hit for Trenton Thunder Tuesday on rehab assignment
TRENTON - New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez will swing for the fences in Trenton Tuesday night as he joins the club's Double-A team as part of a rehab assignment.
A-Rod was sidelined by a strained right hamstring earlier this month. He was placed on the disabled list for 15 days on May 4, and was eligible to join the Bombers in the Bronx Thursday, but according to the Yankees website, Rodriguez "expressed hesitation."
"Hamstrings are always tricky," Rodriguez told MLB.com. "The key for me is to be patient and be smart when I come back. When I come back, I want to come back for good and be ready to help the team win."
The 40-year-old, who is batting .194 (14-for-72) with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 20 games so far this season, injured his hamstring during a game against the Baltimore Orioles. A-Rod was running to first base on a double-play groundout during the fifth inning.
A-Rod's appearance at the Trenton Thunder ballpark is causing a bit of a stir for the minor league team, according to Thunder spokesman Jon Mozes. He said the team learned about A-Rod's rehab assignment Tuesday morning when the Yankees contacted General Manager Jeff Hurley.
Mozes said in the first two hours after the announcement was made, ticket sales for tonight's game spiked.
"In the first two hours after we announced it, we sold over 400 tickets which is pretty big for us," Mozes said.
He said they expect to get close to their sellout number of 6,150 tickets for Tuesday's game at Arm & Hammer park, against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
A-Rod isn't the only Yankee to ever put on a Thunder uniform and head to the Trenton ballpark for rehab. Mozes said several players have headed to New Jersey in recent years. Retired pitcher Andy Pettitte pitched for the team in 2012 and retired shortstop Derek Jeter did rehab in Trenton in 2013. That year, the Thunder actually hit a franchise record of hosting nine Yankees in rehab assignments including Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Michael Pineda, among others. In 2014, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia took the mound in Trenton after being put on the Bombers' disabled list for a knee problem.
Mozes said since the announcement was made about A-Rod's appearance, the excitement has been building.
"Anytime you have somebody of this nature in the ballpark...you certainly notice an energy in the air that's different. We certainly feel it in the staff because we're so excited to have somebody like Alex in the ballpark again and our fans really lock into the game," Mozes said.
Typically, he said, minor league games almost seem secondary to the family atmosphere and activities that are common at games. Tonight, Mozes expects more fans to be fixated on the game and A-Rod's performance.
The first pitch is at 7 p.m. with 23-year-old Daniel Camarena (1-0, 3.60 ERA) pitching for Trenton against 27-year-old John Anderson (2-4, 5.14 ERA) for New Hampshire.
Dan Alexander contributed to this report.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.