A-Rod adds third homer to consistent spring

A-Rod adds third homer to consistent spring

TAMPA, Fla. -- When Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of the spring, he remarked that it had been so long, he had forgotten what it was supposed to feel like. This time, when ball met barrel, he knew exactly what was happening.

Rodriguez slugged his third Grapefruit League homer Saturday, a solo shot to left-center off Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz, in the seventh inning of Baltimore's 10-2 victory at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"That one felt good," Rodriguez said. "I was excited about that one."

The Yankees have been pleased by the amount of life in Rodriguez's swings this spring. He is batting .306 (11-for-36) with a double and four RBIs in 15 spring contests.

"Numbers mean nothing, but you definitely want to pass the eye test," Rodriguez said. "That means moving around better, putting balls in play, and hitting balls in the mid-90s. Those are things I haven't done in over a year and a half, so everything for me this year -- this spring, at least -- is a test."

"He's been pretty consistent," manager Joe Girardi said. "A home run today -- I think his at-bats have been really good."

Sunday will mark another significant checkpoint as Rodriguez returns from his season-long suspension. Not only is he playing in a third straight game for the first time, but he will be doing so as the Yankees' first baseman in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest against the Astros in Kissimmee.

Though he'll likely get most of his at-bats as a designated hitter this year, the Yankees would like to see if Rodriguez can be a serviceable backup first baseman behind Mark Teixeira and Garrett Jones.

Earlier Saturday, Rodriguez strapped on a first baseman's glove and worked out on a back field with infield coach Joe Espada to prepare for the assignment.

"I went out there with Joe and caught a lot of ground balls, turned some double plays," Rodriguez said. "I'm excited. It should be fun."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.