New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez happy to smash first homer of spring

TAMPA — Alex Rodriguez knew it was gone as soon as he hit the ball.

The slugger connected for his first homer of the spring as the Yankees beat the Tigers 6-2 in a split-squad game Friday.

"I knew it was going to be over the first fence, that's for sure," Rodriguez said.

The towering drive over the scoreboard in left in the third came off Tigers RHP Rick Porcello, who was charged with four runs over three innings.

"That one felt really good just because it wasn't an everyday home run," Rodriguez said. "As you get closer to opening day, obviously, you've got to make sure you hone in on your swing, and so far so good."

Yankees LHP CC Sabathia allowed two runs in 51/3 innings, gave up four hits and two walks and struck out eight.

"My offspeed pitches were good," Sabathia said. "Changeup was really good. Got some swings and misses on my cutter. Fastball was good, too."

Yankees SS Derek Jeter, who had a two-run single in the second, was in the lineup and said his throwing hand is fine. He flexed the hand several times after diving for a ball in the fourth inning Thursday.

Odds and ends: Yankees LHP Damaso Marte, hit in the right lower back by a liner off the bat of Phillies slugger Ryan Howard on Wednesday, is feeling better and is scheduled to pitch Sunday.

Jays: After long wait, McGowan pitches

DUNEDIN — Blue Jays RHP Dustin McGowan went 12/3 innings against minor-leaguers in his first game in nearly 21 months.

McGowan, out since July 2008 with several injuries, was dissatisfied with the 36-pitch performance and said he accepts that he won't be on the opening day roster. "I pretty much knew the situation coming in (to training camp). It was an uphill battle anyway, so I can live with it."

Phils: Lefty Escalona sent back to minors

CLEARWATER — With LHP Antonio Bastardo looking more like a lock for the opening day roster, the Phillies optioned LHP Sergio Escalona to minor-league camp, ending a spring in which the team had hoped he would compete for a job in the big-league bullpen.

Injury update: 3B Placido Polanco (sprained knee) was out of the lineup for the third straight game. He is expected to get four or five at-bats in a minor-league game today.

FAST FACTS

Yankees

Where: George Steinbrenner Field, corner of Dale Mabry and Martin Luther King, Tampa. Today: at Astros, 1:05, Kissimmee. Information: yankees.com

Phillies

Where: Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. Today: at Tigers, 1:05, Lakeland, MLB Network. Information: phillies.com

Blue Jays

Where: Dunedin Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Today: vs. Braves, 1:05, Dunedin. Information: bluejays.com

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez happy to smash first homer of spring 03/19/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 20, 2010 1:02am]

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