Alex Rodriguez makes several nice plays at first base as Yankees' split squad tops Pirates 6-2



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TAMPA, Florida — Alex Rodriguez is having some success at a new position.

Rodriguez made several nice plays during his second start at first base, and a New York Yankees' split squad beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 Thursday.

"He's been great," Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said. "I'm very happy,"

Rodriguez is hitting .286 (12 for 42) with three homers.

He nearly turned a double play after fielding Gregory Polanco's grounder and recording the out at first base in the opening inning. He made nice scoops in the first and sixth innings on throws by shortstop Stephen Drew.

"I thought Alex needed the practice," Drew said with a smile.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he would have no problem playing Rodriguez at third or first base.

"He got tested," Girardi said. "It was good."

Rodriguez had a little problem with Starling Marte's foul pop fly in the third but made the catch, and he cleanly played grounders by Pedro Alvarez and Andrew Lambo one inning later. He went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts at the plate, hitting a deep drive to center leading of the third that Marte grabbed at the fence.

"I'm glad he's confident," Rodriguez said with a laugh about Girardi's endorsement. "Yeah, I think I could manage it. Anything to help the team win."

Rodriguez, who turns 40 in July, is coming back from a one-year drug suspension. He is likely to be primarily a designated hitter.

Drew, the starting second baseman, played shortstop for the first time this year. Starting shortstop Didi Gregorius returned after missing four days with a sprained left wrist and played in the other game against Detroit.

STARTING TIME

Pirates: RHP A.J. Burnett allowed six hits, one walk and had two strikeouts in four shutout innings. "I feel better than I have in the past at this time, so confident I'm where I need to be," he said.

Yankees: RHP Michael Pineda gave up one run, six hits and struck out six over 5 1-3 innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: CF Andrew McCutchen had a scheduled day off. He left Wednesday's game against Baltimore in the eighth after slipping on the plate on a grounder but is fine. ... C Chris Stewart (hamstring) played five innings in a minor league game.

Yankees: RF Carlos Beltran didn't play due to a stomach virus. ... GM Brian Cashman said backup INF Brendan Ryan (strained right calf) will be out into at least May. ... Reliever Andrew Bailey, who had shoulder surgery in July 2013, will join Single-A Tampa to avoid pitching in the cold.

MOVING DAY

Pirates: Pittsburgh acquired 1B Hunter Morris from Milwaukee for a player to be named.

Yankees: The Yankees optioned RHP Chase Whitley to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after he lost to Esmil Rogers for the long-man roles. ... Barring late additions, the final two bullpen spots will go to RHP Chris Martin and LHP Chasen Shreve. ... INFs Nick Noonan and Rob Refsnyder, and C Eddy Rodriguez were sent to the minor league camp. ... INF Gregorio Petit, acquired from Houston Wednesday to replace Ryan, entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh and played shortstop and third.

UP NEXT

Pirates: LHP Jeff Locke will face Phillies RHP Aaron Harang Friday night in Philadelphia. The teams then wrapup spring training with another game Saturday. "Everybody's been challenged to get a little bit better," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "Everything has been worked on. We're going to be ready."

Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia and Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg are Friday's scheduled starters.

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