Posted: Tuesday February 1, 2005 11:30AM; Updated: Tuesday February 1, 2005 11:48AM
More than the 36 home runs he hit in the regular season, this is the lasting impression fans got from Alex Rodriguez in 2004.
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Yankees owner George Steinbrenner summoned Alex Rodriguez to Tampa last month to deliver a face-to-face message to his third baseman: It's time to assert yourself on this team. Often using coarse language, Steinbrenner told Rodriguez to take more of a leadership role on and off the field, according to a baseball source who was briefed on the meeting.
The source said Steinbrenner acknowledged shortstop Derek Jeter's influence as team captain but said there was room for Rodriguez to expand his own responsibility. Steinbrenner compared Rodriguez's first season with the Yankees to Roger Clemens' inaugural season in pinstripes in 1999, telling Rodriguez that he and Clemens tried too hard "to blend in like one of the guys" after joining the Yankees.
"I didn't bring you here to be just one of the guys," Steinbrenner said, according to the source.
Clemens was 14-10 with a career-worst 4.60 ERA with the Yankees in 1999 after going 20-6 with a 2.65 ERA and winning the Cy Young for Toronto the previous season. He lowered his ERA by almost a run the following season (3.70) and went 20-3 in 2001 while emerging as a vocal presence in the clubhouse.
Rodriguez exerted major influence on the Texas Rangers in his three seasons there. He counseled young players, often called pitches from his shortstop position and kept in contact regularly with owner Tom Hicks about the direction of the club.
Last season, his first In New York, Rodriguez's numbers fell across the board from his last season in Texas: batting average (.298 to .286), home runs (47, 36), RBIs (118, 106), on-base percentage (.396, .375) and slugging (.600, .512).