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Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez (born July 27, 1975, in New York, New York), commonly nicknamed A-Rod, is a Dominican-American baseball infielder. He is the starting third baseman for the New York Yankees, having played shortstop for the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners.
Since 1996 (his first full season) through 2006 he leads the major leagues in home runs (HR), runs scored, runs batted in (RBI), total bases and extra-base hits. Of all players in baseball history at age 30, he is first all-time in both HR and runs scored, 2nd in total bases and extra base hits, 3rd in RBI, and 4th in hits. In his career to that point, Rodriguez had more HR, more RBI, more runs scored, and more base hits than all-time leaders Hank Aaron (RBI), Barry Bonds (HR), Rickey Henderson (runs scored), and Pete Rose (hits) did prior to their 30th birthdays. He also shares the MLB record (and holds the AL record) for most home runs in the month of April, hitting 14 in 2007.
He has often been cited as the among best all-around players currently in baseball. Rodriguez is also known for signing the richest contract in sports history, a 10-year, $252 million deal.
Rodriguez is the youngest player ever to hit his 500th home run, breaking the record Jimmie Foxx set in 1939.
Alex Rodriguez was born in the Washington Heights section of New York City. When he was four, Rodriguez moved with his parents to their native Dominican Republic. After the family moved to Miami, Florida, three years later, Rodriguez's father announced his intention to move back north to New Jersey for a short time. He never returned, abandoning Rodriguez and his mother.
Alex Rodriguez was drafted first overall by the Seattle Mariners in 1993. He was signed by Roger Jongewaard right out of high school. Rodriguez rose rapidly through the Mariners organization, and made his major league debut as the starting shortstop on July 8, 1994, in Boston at 18 years, 11 months, and 11 days of age, just the third 18-year-old major league shortstop since 1900. He was also the first 18-year-old major league player in 10 years, and the youngest position player in Seattle history. His 1st major league hit was a single off Sergio Valdez on July 9 at Fenway Park. Rodriguez's first major league campaign lasted just one month; the season was cut short by the 1994 Major League Baseball strike.
Rodriguez then split most of 1995 between the Mariners and their AAA club, the Tacoma Rainiers. He connected for his 1st major league home run off Kansas City's Tom Gordon on June 12. Rodriguez joined the major league roster permanently in August, and got his first taste of postseason play, albeit in just two at-bats. Again, he was the youngest player in baseball.
With the 2007 season came a new attitude. Rodriguez reported to camp lighter, having reduced his body fat from 16% the year before to 9%. Alex made light of this fact during a Late Night with David Letterman sketch filmed during Spring Training, which featured a shirtless A-Rod being rubbed down with sun tan lotion. He revealed to the press that he and Derek Jeter were no longer close friends. Alex also reduced his high leg kick at the plate, increasing his bat speed, making him less-apt to strike out and a more dangerous hitter. Additionally, Alex opted to wear high stockings instead of wearing his pants long.
2007 also marks the last year of Alex's 10-year, $252 million contract before he can opt out, effectively making him a free agent again. Though Alex has repeatedly stated that he would like to remain a Yankee for the rest of his career, many speculate that he will indeed exercise the opt out clause and become a free agent.
In the Yankees' fourth game of the season, Rodriguez hit two home runs against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, including a walk-off grand slam, the third of his career, tying the major league mark shared by Vern Stephens and Cy Williams. Rodriguez also began the season by becoming the ninth major leaguer--and first Yankee--to hit six home runs in the first seven games of the season. Rodriguez also became the first Yankee to hit seven home runs in the first ten games of the season.
On April 19, 2007, the Yankees came from behind to defeat the Cleveland Indians 8-6-with Rodriguez hitting a walk-off home run. On April 23, 2007, Rodriguez became the first player in major league history to hit 14 home runs in a span of 18 games, and also tied the MLB record for most home runs in April. His total of 34 RBIs in April was 1 short of Juan González' AL and MLB record. On April 24, Rodriguez's 23-game hitting streak came to an end. In a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 30, 2007, Rodriguez sparked controversy when he shouted during a routine play and the infielder let the pop fly drop, costing the Blue Jays four runs. The Yankees went on to win the game, 10-5.
On June 12th, Rodriguez hit a mammoth home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks that hit off the front of the upper deck in left field. The home run was A-Rod's 25th of the season in only 63 games. That beats out his mark of the 2006 season, in which it took Rodriquez 113 games to reach 25.
Through August 8, Rodriguez ranks 1st in the Major Leagues in home runs (36), RBI (106), slugging percentage (.660), and runs (96).
On August 4th, 2007, Rodriguez hit his 500th career home run against pitcher Kyle Davies of the Kansas City Royals. This made Alex the youngest player ever to reach 500 homers (32 years, 8 days). He is only the second Yankee to hit number 500 at home (Mickey Mantle on May 14, 1967 against Stu Miller was the other).
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