TAMPA, Fla. - Alex Rodriguez was back in his comfort zone: between the white lines.
Rodriguez singled, No. 98 Colin Curtis hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning and the New York Yankees beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 Wednesday with owner George Steinbrenner in attendance to watch the World Series champions in their spring opener.
Rodriguez has been contacted by federal investigators regarding a Canadian doctor accused of selling an unapproved drug. A-Rod said there was “nothing new to report” regarding a pending interview with government officials.
Dr. Anthony Galea is facing four charges in his country related to the drug known as Actovegin, which is extracted from calf’s blood and used for healing. His assistant also has been charged in the U.S. for having HGH and another drug while crossing the border in September.
The 79-year old Steinbrenner has made few public appearances since handing over daily control of the team to his sons, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, in late 2007.
“I enjoyed the game,” George Steinbrenner said.
Pirates pitchers Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf each threw a perfect inning. Ohlendorf struck out Rodriguez in the second. Erik Kratz hit a two-run double for Pittsburgh.
Ramiro Pena also homered for New York.
Before the game, Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session that had been pushed back one day because he had flulike symptoms.
Afterward Chamberlain said he felt “beat,” but was feeling better than he had. The pitcher was sent home before the game to relax.
Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are the front-runners for the fifth starter spot. Both are scheduled to pitch on Friday.
The other three in the fifth starter mix, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre and Alfredo Aceves, all threw two scoreless inning against the Pirates.
“There seems to be so much talk about Hughes and Chamberlain, the other guys are kind of under the radar,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re going to do what we think is best for our club. You put on this uniform, it’s a lot about what are we going to do this year.”
Also, former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams visited the clubhouse. An accomplished jazz performer, Williams said music is pushing playing baseball into the background.
“Probably 70 percent music, 30 percent playing,” Williams said. “I miss it. Who wouldn’t? “The key is filling that void. I think I found it in music. I feel very fortunate to reinvent myself. I’m happy where I’m at right now.”
Williams said it’s for others to decide how his career numbers stack up during the steriods era.
“It’s a very complicated issue,” Williams said. “Who knows who did what. I think at the end of the day you just have to look at yourself in the mirror and say ’Did you do it the right way?’ I did everything the way I was suppose to do it. I had a great time playing this game and I have no regrets.”
NOTES: New York closer Mariano Rivera threw 32 pitches during his second mound session. ... Yankees coach Mick Kelleher rejoined the team after being gone the previous three days following the death of his mother. ... Charlie Morton is scheduled to start the Pirates game Thursday against Atlanta. ... Former major league 1B Fred McGriff rode in an elevator en route to his seat with Hal Steinbrenner. ... Pirates RHP Steven Jackson allowed three runs and three hits in one inning.
HBT: Robinson Cano homered twice while David Phelps had the longest outing of his career as the Yankees topped the Blue Jays 7-2 this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
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