A-Rod hopes No. 600 is birthday present

A-Rod hopes No. 600 is birthday present

CLEVELAND -- Alex Rodriguez will ring in his 35th birthday still sitting on 599 home runs, as the Yankees slugger went hitless in four at-bats on Monday against Indians pitching at Progressive Field.

Needing just one home run to become the seventh member -- and the youngest -- of baseball's 600-homer club, Rodriguez was turned aside for the fourth consecutive game and his first away from Yankee Stadium as he pursues the milestone.

"I'm not really concerned about it," Rodriguez said. "It's going to come, whether it's this week, next week or next month. At some point it will come. I think the important thing for me is to stay within the game, take my walks, and it all comes back to the same fundamentals. There's nothing new."

Rodriguez entered play Monday 6-for-13 (.462) with two doubles and four RBIs since hitting No. 599 on Thursday off the Royals' Robinson Tejeda, but his chase hit a speed bump as the Bombers opened their seven-game trip.

He said he was suffering no ill effects from the hit-by-pitch he took from Royals hurler Blake Wood in the eighth inning on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, which forced him to leave New York's 12-6 victory.

"The hand's good," Rodriguez said. "The hand's really good."

A-Rod waved at a 79-mph Jake Westbrook curveball for a strikeout in the first inning Monday, then lined into an unorthodox double play in the fourth inning as umpires ruled Trevor Crowe snared Rodriguez's low line drive, doubling off Mark Teixeira to end the inning.

"That was a short-hop, not a trap," Rodriguez said. "I think Tex did a great job of reading that ball. I think he came up trying to get the force play at second. If he would have caught it, the reaction would have been to try to get Tex out at first, not at second."

Rodriguez had another at-bat against Westbrook in the seventh inning, grounding out to shortstop, and a two-run showing by New York in the eighth set up Rodriguez's final appearance in the ninth.

With flashbulbs flickering on each pitch from Chris Perez, who served up a grand slam to A-Rod on May 31 in New York, Rodriguez could not improve on his 10 career home runs at Progressive Field, popping out to first base.

"I think the biggest thing for us is that I'd rather not hit a home run and win than hit a home run and lose," Rodriguez said. "Westbrook threw the ball really well, so did Javy [Vazquez], and it was just a great win for us."

With his next home run, Rodriguez is in line to become the youngest player to hit 600 home runs. Babe Ruth hit his 600th after 36 years and 196 days, so Rodriguez still has plenty of time to play with.

Ruth reached the milestone quicker, hitting No. 600 in his 6,921st at-bat. According to SABR's David Vincent, Rodriguez's pace (8,658 at-bats entering play Tuesday) trails that of Barry Bonds (8,212) and Sammy Sosa (8,637), but it eclipses Ken Griffey, Jr. (9,042), Willie Mays (9,514) and Henry Aaron (10,009).