(Majestic. Courtesy of The AP)
As excited as I was for it, and I'm sure you all felt the same way, it wasn't a big fireworks days for The Horse yesterday in his first game back like in '09 against the Orioles. And that's fine. I've said all along that it really doesn't matter what he does for the rest of the season, as long as he stays healthy and is there to produce in the postseason. But that being said, it was apparent that there were some nerves in play as he ran his first race since hitting the DL. In 5 at-bats he only saw 16 pitches, including 2 consecutive first-pitch swinging outs in the 3rd and 5th innings, and he damn near bucked his jockey right off on that swing in the 5th inning when the bases were loaded.
But on the positive side, the swing itself looked pretty good. A-Rod's movement through the zone was sound, he looked good running out of the box, he just didn't have his timing down. That's to be expected. The fact that he was out there, he was swinging at good pitches, and he felt good after the game are all most important. The timing will come.
In fact, I thought the best sign that he's fully healthy was the running, barehanded play he made on Ben Revere's bunt attempt to lead off the 6th. That's the type of play that only a few guys, A-Rod included, in baseball can make, and it involves running full speed and planting that one leg to make a strong throw on the run. After spending the early part of last week saying that he had still yet to really let go and go all out running the bases, it was great to see The Horse make that play because you can really only make it if you're going all out.
So no big offensive fireworks yesterday, but they'll come. The important thing is that The Horse is back in the lineup, feeling good, and bursting out of the gate with no physical issues. Now it's only a matter of time before he starts looking like a major contender for the Breeder's Cup again.