- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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Cleveland -- The chase goes on.
Alex Rodriguez, hit in the left hand by a pitch in the eighth inning of Sunday's 12-6 Yankees win over the Kansas City Royals, was in the lineup for Monday's game against the Indians at Progressive Field.
"The hand's good,'' Rodriguez said as he entered the clubhouse at about 4 p.m. "It's really good.''
Rodriguez took batting practice and fielded ground balls without any wrapping on his hand. He hit several balls into the stands and sprayed line drives around the field.
Manager Joe Girardi said holding A-Rod out of the lineup was never an issue.
"I checked with him after the game [Sunday],'' Girardi said, "And I talked to him when he came in today. I just said, 'You're fine, right?' and he said yeah.''
That means that A-Rod's pursuit of home run No. 600, in progress since the seventh inning of Thursday night's 7-4 victory over the Royals, resumes Monday against Indians' right-hander Jake Westbrook, against whom he is batting .375 (9-24) with one home run in his career.
Since hitting No. 599, Rodriguez has not come close to hitting one out of the park, although he has gone 6-for-13 with two doubles and four RBIs in the three subsequent games at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees now embark on a seven-game, two-city road trip, four in Cleveland beginning Monday and three in Tampa over the weekend.
"I'm sure he would have liked to do it at home, but it's not unusual for him to go three days without hitting a home run,'' Girardi said. "It's not an issue unless you let it become an issue. To me, it's not a big deal. His at-bats have been good.''
Girardi acknowledged the possibility that the supercharged atmosphere at Yankee Stadium over the weekend, in which thousands of fans waited through lengthy rain delays Friday and Sunday to see each of A-Rod's at-bats, which were greeted by thousands of flashbulbs on every pitch, might have affected Rodriguez' concentration. Plus, the standard game balls are replaced before each of his at-bats and replaced with specially-marked baseballs for easy verification of the historic ball, an in-game intrusion that serves as a constant reminder that something momentous may be about to happen.
"I think we'll get better sense in the next couple of days whether it was that or not,'' he said. "Certainly, he can't get away from it. It's always there. But I'm pretty confident he'll hit one more home run before he's through.''
Alex Rodriguez is in the New York Yankees lineup as he tries to his 600th career home run Monday night against the Cleveland Indians.