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Two home runs for Alex Rodriguez: One over the fence, one off the field

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez prepares for batting

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez prepares for batting practice before a spring training game against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., Friday, March 20, 2015. Credit: AP / Carlos Osorio

LAKELAND, Fla. - On the day he learned he likely will not have to testify in the Biogenesis trial of his cousin, Yuri Sucart, Alex Rodriguez hit his second home run of spring training Friday in the Yankees' 11-2 victory over Detroit.

Rodriguez had been struggling, with one hit in his previous 14 at-bats and no home runs since March 11, before hitting an opposite-field shot on a 96-mph fastball from Tigers righthander Bruce Rondon in the fifth inning.

Earlier in the day, he appeared to avoid a potential baseball distraction and possible legal implications when it became likely that he no longer will have to leave the Yankees during the season to testify against Sucart, who now is expected to plead guilty.

Sucart's trial was scheduled to begin on April 6 -- Opening Day for the Yankees.

New court documents filed in Miami on Friday showed that Sucart has agreed to change his plea at a hearing next Friday.

Sucart had pleaded not guilty to seven counts related to the performance-enhancing drug scandal that led to Rodriguez's season-long suspension from baseball in 2014.

In a court filing in November, prosecutors said Rodriguez "has a prominent role" in their case against Sucart. Defense lawyers likely would have tried to ask Rodriguez questions under oath about his own PED use.

Asked if he is relieved that he likely no longer will have to testify, Rodriguez said: "Guys, we have so many good things to talk about, but that's not one of them."

Rodriguez much preferred to talk about his home run, which did not occur without a little drama.

The ball appeared to hit the top of the rightfield wall, hit something beyond the fence and ricochet back onto the field at Joker Marchant Stadium before being thrown into second base. It immediately was ruled a home run, but a confused Rodriguez headed back to first before resuming his trot around the bases.

"It's been a while since I hit a ball that way," he said. "It was funny."

Rodriguez, who is batting .269, went 1-for-3 as the designated hitter.

"I've been out in front," he said. "I hit two of the weakest ground balls I think I've ever seen hit my first two at-bats, so I needed just to fight the ball off. It was good to do that off a guy who throws the ball hard."

Notes & quotes: Adam Warren vaulted into the lead for the fifth starter's spot by allowing one run in five innings. He gave up four hits, struck out three and lowered his ERA to 2.77. "That's the best I've felt all spring," he said. Esmil Rogers, another candidate, was unimpressive on Thursday, allowing three runs in 31/3 innings against the Phillies. "We'll wait to the end [to decide],'' Joe Girardi said . . . Brendan Ryan (back) went 1-for-3 with an RBI double in his first game . . . Girardi said he still plans to try Rodriguez at first base, possibly next week . . . Rob Refsnyder hit his first home run.


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