A-Rod welcomes support

A-Rod welcomes support

BALTIMORE -- As Alex Rodriguez sits five home runs away from tying Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list, the Yankees slugger said on Monday that he is pleased to count Barry Bonds among the people cheering for him to move up the chain.

"Anyone that supports me at this point, it's well appreciated," Rodriguez said after the Yankees' 6-5 victory over the Orioles. "It's not taken for granted, that's for sure. But my focus continues to stay between the lines."

In an interview with USA Today, Bonds, like Rodriguez no stranger to performance-enhancement controversy, said that he would applaud Rodriguez if he passes Mays, Bonds' godfather. Mays slugged 660 home runs during a 22-year career with the Giants and Mets. Rodriguez has one home run this season, boosting his total to 655 over 21 big league seasons.

"My godfather means the world to me. I love him to a T, but when Alex hits No. 660, I'll be happy for him," Bonds said. "Willie will be happy for him. Everybody should be happy for him. Anytime anybody in the game does something that's a great accomplishment, the game of baseball should celebrate that. No matter what."

Rodriguez's $275 million deal with the Yankees, signed after the 2007 season, includes a marketing agreement that specifies a $6 million bonus for tying each of the leaders atop the home run list: Mays, Babe Ruth (714), Henry Aaron (755) and Bonds (762), plus another $6 million if he passes Bonds.

"I'm so focused on baseball," Rodriguez said. "One day I'm at third, one day I'm at first, maybe tomorrow I'm at DH. I have a lot on my plate right now, and I'm having a lot of fun doing it. Tonight was a big win."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he hopes Rodriguez hits the five homers this month, but declined to go into detail about his personal feelings toward the milestone and Rodriguez's history.

"I'm not going to share my opinion, but as you know, my job is to get the most out of Alex," Girardi said. "That's my job, and that's what I will continue to do. So far he has played extremely well, and we need that to continue."

Rodriguez went 0-for-4 Monday at Camden Yards and is batting .250 through the first week of this season.

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.