A day after calling for a temporary cease-fire in his feud with the Yankees and Major League Baseball, Alex Rodriguez kept to his word Thursday, saying he is "laser-focused on the mission at hand.''
He played like it, too.
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Back on the field after a day off, he made two key defensive plays that saved a possible three runs as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays, 5-3, for their 10th victory in 12 games.
Rodriguez ended the fourth inning by smoothly fielding a slow roller on the run and throwing out Brett Lawrie at first, stranding a runner at third. An inning later, he got the Yankees out of a bases-loaded situation with a nifty double play, kneeling to grab a hard shot to his right, stepping on third and throwing out speedy Rajai Davis at first.
"That was a big play,'' Rodriguez said. "Bases loaded and you have their best hitter coming up next against Andy [Pettitte]. I thought it was one of the big plays in the game.''
So for one day at least, gone was any evidence of his damaged relationship with his employers, which reached new heights last weekend in Boston when his lawyer accused the Yankees of intentionally not telling A-Rod about his injured left hip in the postseason last year.
That accusation kicked off a few days dominated by rapid-fire verbal jabs between all sides, with no end in sight. That is, until Rodriguez called off the dogs Wednesday, saying he planned to "shut it down'' and focus on baseball to eliminate potential distractions to his streaking team.
That news was well-received by at least one of his Yankees supporters.
"I commend him for it,'' manager Joe Girardi said. "Just try to put this on the side burner for now and focus on the task at hand. I think it's a good thing.''
Rodriguez was hitless in three at-bats, though video replays showed he should have been called safe at first in the fourth. After hitting a hard grounder that ricocheted off pitcher J.A. Happ to third baseman Lawrie, A-Rod barely beat Lawrie's throw to first but was called out.
Rodriguez reached on a walk in the sixth and took advantage of the Blue Jays' unorthodox defensive positioning against Curtis Granderson by stealing second. Shortstop Jose Reyes, the only defender on the left side of the infield, was too far from second to cover the bag in time.
"I definitely felt better today, my body felt good,'' Rodriguez said. "I thought I moved around well.''
Rodriguez also received an endorsement of sorts from an unusual source. Boston's David Ortiz was quoted in Thursday's editions of USA Today saying he "didn't like'' Ryan Dempster intentionally drilling Rodriguez with a pitch Sunday night. "I don't think it was the right thing to do,'' Ortiz said.
When that quote was relayed to Rodriguez, he said of his friend, "I have a lot of respect for Big Papi.''