“He looked good,” Mussina said, after showering and pulling on his bright red Captain America T-shirt. “The ball comes out of his hand real nice. The one day I played catch with him, the ball was coming out of his hand easy and smooth. I hope he stays healthy.”
Joe Torre added:
“He’s pretty impressive, there’s no question, but a lot of things can happen on the way,” Torre said. “He just seems pretty grounded for a kid his age and with the stuff he possesses. We’ll see. He’ll be around for a little bit. As long as we can continue to get him work, he’ll be here.”
John Harper sat down with Al Leiter who has become close with Alex Rodriguez. Here’s Senator Al’s take on the man people love to hate:
“In his own way he has learned to be guarded,” Leiter said. “I think a lot of it has to do with being labeled when he was a junior in high school as someone so talented that he could someday be the greatest player in the history of the game.
“That’s some pretty heavy stuff to carry around for years. And because he is who he is, people want to know what he does, how he looks, what brand of sweat pants he’s wearing. He’s learned to be careful, but at his core he’s this jovial guy with an almost-childlike sense of fun who likes to be a little goofy and likes to have a good time, so he tries to be protective of saying the wrong thing, and as a result, it may seem like he’s insincere but it’s more not saying just the right thing.”
Leiter goes on to say how much Rodriguez enjoys talking about the nuts and bolts of the game–which reminded me of the last game of the regular season in Boston last year, with the Yanks well behind in the game, there was Rodriguez on the bench in an animated discussion with Chien-Ming Wang for several innings. Leiter continues:
A-Rod “gets the mental thing, too,” according to Leiter. Conquering postseason pressure is another matter.
“He recognizes what he means to the team in those situations,” said Leiter, “and when you try to carry the load, when you think outside of that little box you want to be in, you can’t perform at your best.
“Alex is too acutely aware of his surroundings sometimes. At those moments you need that laser-beam focus on the pitcher and what you’re doing at the plate. You can’t be thinking, ‘God, I need a hit here.’ For me, when I’m locked in, I don’t hear the crowd or think about the situation. Every single pitch is very, very clear to me. It’s elevating the process of visualization one step further.”
If only Rodriguez had a sense of humor like Barry Bonds…