It was Alex Rodriguez replica bat day at Yankee Stadium Saturday and handing out the bats was . . . A-Rod himself. How often is a major league player actually involved in the distribution of promotion bearing his name?

The Yankees designated hitter was available for the meet and greet because he’s been on the disabled list since May 4 with a strained right hamstring. He was hitting .194 with five home runs and 12 runs batted in. Rodriguez, who turns 41 July 27, is eight homers short of 700 for his career and 22 behind Babe Ruth (714) for third on the all-time list.

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Rodriguez was flanked by an NYPD detail and stood behind metal railing but his appearance delighted surprised youngsters and their families walking inside Gate 2. He spent about 30 minutes giving out the children’s sized bats, taking pictures and speaking with fans.

``Anytime you get a chance to interact with our fans and their kids it’s pretty awesome,’’ he said afterward. `` We don’t really get to connect with our fans is it a great opportunity. ‘’

Rodriguez is eligible to come of the DL on Thursday when the Yankees open a four-game series in Oakland against the Athletics. ``No predictions for sure,’’ he said of his return. ``Hopefully it goes well, and hopefully we get to stay on schedule.’’