No. 600 looming, A-Rod tries to 'think small'

No. 600 looming, A-Rod tries to 'think small'

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez stood in front of his locker on Tuesday afternoon, glancing at the clubhouse television as two analysts discussed his pursuit of 600 career homers. The on-air dialogue triggered a smile from the Yankees' third baseman.

But that smile quickly faded into a frown on Tuesday night, when Rodriguez finished 0-for-3 and extended his hitless streak to 17 at-bats and homerless drought to 12 games in the Yankees' 8-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

"Right now, he's in a funk," manager Joe Girardi said after the game. "It's easy for me to sit up here and say, 'This is what you should do,' but none of us have ever been in Alex's shoes and none of us have ever been at 599 homers, so none of us know how it feels. You can say all the right things, but none of us know what it's like."

As each day passes, Rodriguez knows the anticipation for his milestone moment continues to grow. But prior to Tuesday's game, he reiterated the importance of team success over individual accolades.

"Six hundred goes way back here," Rodriguez said, pointing to the back of his locker. "There are other things aside from hitting -- we have to play defense, we need to pitch, we have to move runners over, we have to take the extra base. The key is just to think small."

Girardi, however, has watched that counsel backfire on his slugger. Over the course of the past few games, the manager said he's noticed a difference in Rodriguez's approach when he takes at-bats with no runners on base.

And it has shown. Rodriguez's past eight at-bats have come with the bases empty, but in that span, he's been unable to capitalize, striking out three times while hitting into three groundouts and flying out twice.

-- Didier Morais