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Tropicana Field abuzz over Alex Rodriguez's run at 600 home runs

ST. PETERSBURG — The Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Lance Berkman from the Astros, according to several reports, after making a deal Friday night with the Indians for outfielder Austin Kearns.

Kearns, 30, who is hitting .268 with eight homers and 42 RBIs, was acquired for a player to be named or cash. The right-hander bolsters the bench and provides outfield depth against left-handers.

But New York would get an everyday designated hitter in Berkman, a five-time All-Star. The deal is expected to be done by today's 4 p.m. nonwaiver trade deadline, with the Yankees giving up Triple-A reliever Mark Melancon and Class A infielder Jimmy Paredes, the New York Post reported.

Berkman, 34, also could back up Mark Teixeira at first, and there's a chance he could start tonight. He has 13 homers, 49 RBIs and a .245 average. The switch-hitter, who waived a no-trade clause, is making $14.5 million this year, with a $15 million club option for 2011 or $2 million buyout.

With 1B/DH Nick Johnson out indefinitely with an inflamed tendon in his right wrist, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has rotated veterans in the DH spot. But he said before Friday's game against the Rays that could change.

"That's the great thing about the Yankees is that they're always going to do what it takes to win," Teixeira said. "And you see it … with getting two players like that."

HISTORY HYPE: Though Alex Rodriguez came up empty in his quest for his 600th homer, excitement brewed at the Trop.

With each at-bat, there was anticipation. Plate umpire Tim Welke received specially marked balls before Rodriguez came up to make sure the home run ball could be authenticated. Extra security was in the outfield seats monitoring landing spots.

Rodriguez was booed before each at-bat, but tons of flashing camera lights were seen for each pitch. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, two flyouts and two popouts, including in the ninth. Rodriguez, who was not available for comment after the game, is on an eight-game homerless streak spanning 34 at-bats.

If the homer comes this weekend, security guards likely will find the fan, and it would be between the fan and the Yankees what happens next.

The ball could be worth a lot of money. According to the website Sports Collectors Daily, Rodriguez's 500th homer ball was sold at auction for $103,579.

Tropicana Field abuzz over Alex Rodriguez's run at 600 home runs 07/30/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 31, 2010 1:21am]

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