Archive for June, 2013


Posted by on Wednesday, 26 June, 2013

June 25, 2013

New York Yankees
Himes Complex
Tampa, Florida

By Rocky Julich

It is early Tuesday morning. The sun is already shining brightly over the glistening green playing fields, with the promise of heat.

I have arrived at the Yankees Minor League Complex to observe a game of Player Development.

The team bus full of Gulf Coast League players of the Atlanta Braves is at the back gate of the playing field, slowly discharging the teen passengers. They are baseball players for a scheduled 12:00 noon game vs. the Gulf Coast League team of the New York Yankees.

As these players, fully uniformed in their Atlanta Braves baseball colors, walk through a fenced-in, long open air corridor, do they glance to their left at the playing field? Maybe not, as fielding practice may appear routine to them.

On the playing field, there are three Yankees players and their coaches practicing fielding and throwing from third base, shortstop and second base. Three players, dressed in navy blue shorts and Yankees insignia tee shirts.

I follow behind the twenty-five Atlanta players and watch as they enter through the security gate. I stop at the bench seating area. Entrance to the playing fields for Reporters will not be permitted until game time. It is a new security rule. A rule implemented to protect the group of Yankees Major League Players rehabbing at the Player Development Himes Complex.

I place my notebook and briefcase on a bench and lean against the tall chain link fence. I am immediately caught up by the sight. It is the first time I have seen Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez in person in over a year, since I left The Bronx.

He is tall, a big guy. In his player shorts and Yankees tee shirt, A-Rod displays hands as if molded by catcher’s mitt, strong even toned legs, muscular thighs, biceps and arms in proportion. He is bronze tanned. His hair closely cropped. Eyes focused on the ball. He smiles. This baseball player portrays a visual look of a perfectly honed baseball superstar.

He is seven and a half weeks into rehabbing his second surgically repaired hip.

Now after two successful hip replacements, could we next see an example of a bionic player?

I am taken by the ease of his practice. He fields the balls batted to him. He bends and scoops close to the ground and throws. He pivots to the location of the fielded ball and he throws. He does short sprints to the ball fielded to him and he throws, each time with accuracy. The throwing of the ball by the Yankees coach and the fielding by A-Rod is repeated over and over. And I watch, not wanting to miss a second of his practice. His stature exudes confidence on the practice field.

At some point, the famous third baseman of the New York Yankees looks towards the chain link fence, he spots me and waves. I send him an almost regal wave. I have watched him at practice his entire Yankees career.

All of a sudden, I wonder at the other two players alongside him. I am sent into disbelief. For approximately ten minutes I have been focused on the third baseman, not for a minute acknowledging the players at shortstop and second base. They are Derek Jeter and Eduardo Nunez.

I am not concerned at my oversight, as I recollect the effect the famous “A-Rod” has on the baseball fans and media. When A-Rod is on sight, no denying, he does overshadow the players around him.

I am not a fan, I am a Reporter.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.