Any day now, Alex Rodriguez will hit his 660th career home run, tying him with the great Willie Mays for fourth place on Major League Baseball's all-time list. That day was not Monday.
Rodriguez, who hit his 659th homer Sunday night in the Yankees' victory over the Mets, was held in check by the Tampa Bay Rays. He went 0-for-3 with a walk in the Yankees' 4-1 victory at Yankee Stadium.
Whenever Rodriguez does hit the momentous homer, the Yankees won't necessarily be all that happy about it, though. According to Rodriguez's 10-year, $275-million contract, he is due to earn a $6-million bonus when he hits No. 660, but the Yankees privately have indicated they are not inclined to pay that bonus. They believe Rodriguez's suspension for the 2014 season -- thanks to his use of performance-enhancing substances and Biogenesis involvement -- has made the home run total unmarketable.
Before the game, manager Joe Girardi was asked if A-Rod's next home run will be a milestone, which may be the key word in the Yankees' argument over whether they have to pay the bonus.
"Yeah," Girardi said. "I mean, 660 home runs. He continues to move up on the leader board. I mean, there's going to be a lot of different opinions on this 660, and when he passes Willie. Barry [Bonds, the all-time home run leader at 762] went through it and a lot of the guys went through it. The reality is, it's 660 home runs. I don't know what you say, but when you look in the record books, [Rodriguez's] name is going to be there."
Rodriguez, who started at third base for only the second time this season, failed to hit the ball out of the infield before Chase Headley pinch ran for him in the seventh inning. So the pursuit of 660 will have to wait.
If management is ambivalent about Rodriguez tying Mays, his teammates are not.
"We're going to be excited to celebrate it when that comes," Mark Teixeira said. "It's an amazing accomplishment."
"We're going to be extremely excited for him," Brian McCann added. "That's a big number. It's a treat to watch him day in and day out. Watching him hit off the tee is exciting; he's got a flawless swing. He shares his knowledge around the clubhouse. It's been great."
The 39-year-old popped out to first in the first inning, and grounded out twice to third, the second time with the bases loaded and two out. In his final at-bat, with Brett Gardner on second following a one-out double, Rodriguez ran the count to 3-and-0 against lefthanded reliever Everett Teagarden before the Rays decided to put him on first base intentionally. Teagarden then got Teixeira to hit into an inning-ending double play.