NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez credited a morning session with hitting coach Kevin Long as a key to his success in Friday's 7-6 victory over the Tigers, but the Yankees slugger isn't about to reveal many details.
"We figured out a few things and hopefully we can keep riding that," Rodriguez said. "For the most part, it's swinging at strikes and, for me, hitting the ball up the middle, getting the ball in the air or to the opposite field. Those are all things that are very good for me."
Rodriguez slugged his 633rd career home run in the fourth inning off Detroit's Justin Verlander. The blast came as part of a 3-for-4 performance and marked A-Rod's 288th homer as a Yankee, surpassing Bernie Williams for sixth place on the franchise's all-time list.
Facing Verlander in the fifth, Rodriguez also belted a loud drive to deep center field that might have cleared the fence on a warmer night, but instead died in Austin Jackson's glove. It was the only time in four at-bats that Rodriguez was retired.
"One of the balls he hit the hardest was the ball he hit to center field," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "On a normal day when it's not cold and the wind's blowing, he's got another home run. I just thought he swung at good pitches and he was patient."
Weather alters Pettitte's next start location
NEW YORK -- The Yankees had second thoughts about sending Andy Pettitte to the mound in cold conditions and instead have him pitching on Monday for Class A Tampa, general manager Brian Cashman announced after Saturday's 7-5 loss to the Tigers.
Manager Joe Girardi had said that he expected Pettitte to pitch on Monday night for Double-A Trenton, but the game against the Portland Sea Dogs in Portland, Maine, is expected to start with temperatures in the 40s.
"He pitched in some pretty raw conditions [on Wednesday for Trenton] as well," Girardi said before the decision. "Because of that, you might change where he throws. ... Basically, he feels good, though. That's the good thing -- he's bouncing back really well."
Pettitte, 39, is expected to throw 90-95 pitches in his next start. After the upcoming outing, Girardi would not rule out that Pettitte could be promoted to the big leagues, but also said that it is possible Pettitte would start again at Double-A or Triple-A. Girardi said it is not imperative that Pettitte sees Triple-A hitters before jumping to the big leagues.
"I could see how people think that higher competition is going to be a better gauge, but I think we all pretty much have an idea of what Andy needs to do and what his stuff looks like after so many years," Girardi said.
Girardi also said that Roger Clemens' ongoing federal perjury trial has not factored into the Yankees' discussions of when they would promote Pettitte to the Major Leagues. Girardi said that the team could have Pettitte at the big league level even if his anticipated commitments in Washington, D.C., are not complete.
"If that's what you have to do, that's what you have to do," Girardi said. "Andy is pretty good at blocking things out. He has had other things that he has had to deal with in his life. ... I think that wouldn't be a distraction, really. It might keep him from being with us as much as he should be, but I think he'll be able to block it out."
Rehabbing Gardner hopes to resume BP soon
NEW YORK -- Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner reported no problems after testing his strained right elbow with some bunting, and he is hoping to be cleared to resume taking batting practice soon.
"[Bunting] doesn't bother me at all. Hopefully it feels good," Gardner said.
Gardner was scheduled to take dry swings and swings off a tee on Saturday. He has been on the disabled list since April 19 and believes he could be activated on May 3, the first day he would be eligible to come off the DL.
"That's the plan," Gardner said. "Today is just Step 1, but hopefully it feels good. We'll see how it goes."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees had not won a game on a walk-off passed ball in at least the past 50 years before Friday night, when the Tigers' Alex Avila missed a ninth-inning pitch that permitted Derek Jeter to score the winning run.
Since the start of the 2009 season, Rodriguez has been the final batter or involved in driving in the game-winning or tying run in nine of the Yankees' 24 walk-off innings, including the postseason.
On this date in 1989, Rickey Henderson hit the 36th leadoff home run of his career in a 3-1 victory over the White Sox, surpassing Bobby Bonds (35) for sole possession of the all-time record. Henderson retired with 73 leadoff homers.