A-Rod nearly makes '16 debut on defense

A-Rod nearly makes '16 debut on defense

SAN DIEGO -- The Yankees' late comeback on Friday night fell one run shy of forcing a bottom of the ninth inning, which would have allowed Alex Rodriguez to dust off his glove and make his first defensive appearance of the season.

Rodriguez said he "felt like a Little Leaguer" when manager Joe Girardi sent him back to the clubhouse to retrieve the glove, planning to station him at third base in the next half-inning. The rally fell short, as Brett Gardner grounded out to seal New York's 7-6 loss to the Padres.

"I was so excited. I was thrilled," Rodriguez said. "Yeah, I wanted the opportunity to go out and play a little third. It was going to be fun. I had a good feeling we were going to tie that game. I had a good feeling the way the guys came back and showed a lot of heart there in the ninth."

A-Rod's pinch-hit RBI single

Now entrenched as a full-time designated hitter, Rodriguez said he did not take any ground balls this spring or during the regular season to date.

He has not played the field in a game since last May, though the two-time Gold Glove Award winner suggested he might wander out to third base before Saturday's Interleague game at Petco Park. Rodriguez said he only brings his glove to National League parks.

"It was awesome," Rodriguez said. "I said, 'Yeah, I brought my glove. I'm going to go get it.' I sprinted up here [to the clubhouse] and I couldn't wait to get out there."

A-Rod on almost playing defense

Girardi and the Yankees had few choices late in Friday's game; in fact, Girardi revealed that he had pitcher Masahiro Tanaka limbering just in case he was needed for pinch-running duty.

At third base, Chase Headley was double-switched out for Rob Refsnyder in the sixth inning, and Ronald Torreyes took over at third base in the seventh. Rodriguez pinch-hit for Torreyes in the ninth, stroking a run-scoring single that chased former Yankees reliever Matt Thornton.

"Joe told me after I scored the run, I think a batter later, he said, 'You're going to third,'" Rodriguez said. "I said, 'Me?' He said, 'Yeah.' So I just ran up there and got my glove and got ready.'"

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.