KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Alex Rodriguez's "green light" during the offseason has led to a red-hot exhibition start.
A-Rod reported to camp about 10 pounds lighter and has noticed an immediate difference. "I think my work overall has been more consistent," he said after hitting a two-run homer in the Yankees' 10-8 win over the Astros Sunday. "I feel stronger, more flexible. Throw the stats out in spring training, but overall, I feel pretty good."
Rodriguez is 6-for-13 with a 1.000 slugging percentage in five games. "He's been pretty locked in from Day 1," Joe Girardi said.
A-Rod attributed that to being able to start his offseason workout program earlier than in previous seasons, a program that included visits from hitting coach Kevin Long.
The day after reporting, A-Rod talked about getting the "green light" to work out this past offseason the way he did before hip surgery in March 2009.
"I think overall, Kevin being down in Miami two or three times, this has just been a continuation of what we started in November," A-Rod said. "I think this year, I feel more like I did in pre-surgery [years]."
CC Sabathia didn't fare too well Saturday in his second exhibition start and Phil Hughes had a similar experience Sunday, though not quite as bad. On a blustery day, with the wind blowing out seemingly to all fields, Hughes allowed five hits, including two homers, and three runs in three innings.
Jason Michaels' homer to lead off the second came on a changeup, one of the few changeups Hughes threw because the lineup he faced had no lefties.
"I felt like command-wise, I was better today ," he said. "Located my fastball better. Curveball was inconsistent, but my cutter was pretty good today. I took some good things, some bad things away. Hopefully, next time's a little better than this one."
OF Colin Curtis jammed his right shoulder diving for a ball, which he caught, in the fifth inning. He'll have an MRI Monday . . . RHP David Phelps struck out Koby Clemens, one of Roger's sons and an Astros farmhand, with two on in the ninth for the final out . . . In an interesting juxtaposition in the morning, 19-year-old LHP Manny Banuelos, who has been dazzling, threw a bullpen session and was followed by Mariano Rivera. Rivera, who had not thrown one since Feb. 25, threw 32 pitches. He said next he'll "face some hitters" in live BP before appearing in a game.