Yankees revel in A-Rod's achievement

Yankees revel in A-Rod's achievement

NEW YORK -- Nick Swisher leaped from his seat in the Yankees' dugout, raising both of his hands toward the heavens.

Seconds after Alex Rodriguez belted his 600th career home run in Wednesday's 5-1 victory over the Blue Jays, the Yankees outfielder sauntered around the dugout, holding his Hallelujah pose and celebrating as if he -- not Rodriguez -- had achieved the monumental milestone.

Alex Rodriguez/600

Running on pure adrenaline, Swisher moseyed past his teammates and emerged as the first person -- aside from on-deck batter Robinson Cano -- to embrace Rodriguez. And after a two-week wait alongside his teammates, no one could blame Swisher for his animated celebration.

"It was just such a great moment," Swisher said. "We've been waiting for this for a while now. The way that it happened -- a home run to center field in this ballpark -- you got to be a big man to hit it there. He's just a great athlete and to reach such a great milestone, it was an honor for all of us to be there and witness that."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi certainly displayed his excitement. Following the home run, he too raced toward the dugout stairs, awaiting Rodriguez's return to the dugout.

"I know how much Al just wants to get down to baseball and win games and not be the talk," Girardi said. "He's been so productive for us. He's been consistent. There's a lot of emotions, but really happiness right now."

Milestone memories
Alex Rodriguez's milestone homers on the road to joining the 600-homer club
No. Pitcher Opponent Date
1 Tom Gordon Royals 6/12/95
50 Felipe Lira Tigers 6/5/97
100 Nerio Rodriguez Blue Jays 8/12/98
150 Andy Pettitte Yankees 4/7/00
200 Jon Garland White Sox 5/12/01
250 Luke Prokopec Blue Jays 4/30/02
300 Ramon Ortiz Angels 4/2/03
350 Mark Mulder Athletics 5/4/04
400 Jorge de la Rosa Brewers 6/8/05
450 A.J. Burnett Blue Jays 7/21/06
500 Kyle Davies Royals 8/4/07
550 Jason Hammel Rays 9/4/08
600 Shaun Marcum Blue Jays 8/4/10

As Rodriguez rounded the bases, fellow teammates and bench coaches stood together and applauded in unison. The group, however, deserted the dugout when Rodriguez crossed home plate, opting instead to form a line and personally congratulate their All-Star third baseman on his achievement.

One person who was absent in the Yankees' dugout was captain Derek Jeter. Like in 2007 when Rodriguez clubbed his 500th career homer, the shortstop had a front-row seat to the milestone, witnessing No. 600 while on first base.

"It was special again," Jeter said, laughing. "It's hard to believe, I mean, what is he, 35? Well, he says he's 35. He got to 600 pretty quickly, so I'm sure this won't be the last [milestone]. There's a lot of good things for him to come. I'm happy he had a chance to do it at home. He did what he's done 600 times."

This time around, however, Rodriguez scorched his historic homer with some fresh faces in his corner. Playing in their third game at Yankee Stadium, Kerry Wood, Austin Kearns and Lance Berkman were swiftly introduced to the spectacle surrounding Rodriguez's pursuit of 600.

"It's just part of the deal," Berkman said of the pressure playing in New York. "Everyone wants to do well. Nobody wants to fail and have that broadcasted to the world. All players kind of fear that on some level. But at the same time, this guy's done everything.

"We're essentially the same age and he's got like 275 more homers than me, and that's a lot. That's why there are only seven guys who've done it and it's a really, really significant milestone."

But Wood, who was acquired from the Indians last Saturday in a Trade Deadline deal, is no stranger to history.

Speedy to 600
Fewest games to reach 600 career homers
Rank Player Games
1. Babe Ruth 2,044
2. Alex Rodriguez 2,267
3. Sammy Sosa 2,302
4. Barry Bonds 2,395
5. Ken Griffey Jr. 2,440
6. Willie Mays 2,557
7. Hank Aaron 2,592
,

The former Cubs pitcher witnessed Sammy Sosa's 500th career homer on April 4, 2003 and Greg Maddux's 3,000th strikeout on July 26, 2005, but maintained those moments didn't measure up to Rodriguez's 600th roundtripper.

"It was a bigger stage, on a national stage," Wood said of Rodriguez's homer. "They were following Sammy as well, but 600 is bigger than 500. The worldwide media is here, and I don't know that Sammy had the worldwide media following him around."

For the last four years, Joba Chamberlain has endured that scrutiny. As a result of those trying circumstances, the reliever said he developed a greater appreciation for Rodriguez's ability to overcome adversity and blast No. 600.

"It was tremendous," Chamberlain said. "I felt happy for him personally. It's hard to when you [reporters] are at his locker every day. But I don't think he has any limits. He's on the top list of best hitters in the game."

Didier Morais is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.