Alex Rodriguez acknowledged that he expected baseball fans to have mixed feelings about him joining the illustrious 600 home run club. The New York Yankees slugger became the seventh man in MLB history to reach the landmark after hitting the Toronto Blue Jays's Shaun Marcum's pitch over centre-field during the first inning of their match, which the Yankees won 5-1. Rodriguez has been a controversial figure in the sport since admitting last year to use steriods while with the Texas Rangers between 2001 and 2003.
"I know a lot of fans are going to have their hesitations on what it means but for me personally, I've played a long time and it is a big number and a special number and I feel very good about it," he told reporters after the Toronto game as he reflected on his achievement. Rodriguez had hit his 599th home run almost two weeks ago but needed 51 trips to the plate to get his 600th as questions about his form started to pop up.
But after finally hitting 600, he added: "I was probably just trying to do a little bit too much. "I had a lot of support from my teammates - they were very patient. The fans here in New York were extremely patient. "It reminds me of the place I've been the last two years - talk little and try to do the talking with my bat. "And the last week and a half or so, I've been doing the exact opposite. I've been talking a lot with the media and doing very little with the bat. So I'm glad that's over."
With seven years still left on his $275 million (Dh 1 billion) contract with the Yankees, Rodriguez has time to move further up baseball's all-time home run list, which is headed by Barry Bonds on 762. "I don't know where he's going to end up," Joe Girardi, the Yankees manager, said. "So much of it depends on health as we move forward. But there's still power there - he showed that power going to dead centre."