Alex Rodriguez thought he needed 10 rehab games to make an impact. The 37-year-old may have aimed a little low.
In his ninth rehab start of the year and his first with Double-A Trenton, the Yankees third baseman belted his first homer and went 2-for-4 while handling four grounders successfully. Trenton piled up three runs in the top of the ninth inning and came away with a 6-5 victory over Reading.
The performance was an encouraging stride for the infielder after collecting three hits in 21 at-bats in his eight previous outings. The slugger with 647 career homers is returning from hip surgery in January.
Rodriguez smacked the home run in the fifth inning. Following a walk to Ramon Flores, the right-handed hitter mashed a towering blast 400 feet to right-center field. The home run was his first since taking Tampa Bay's Joel Peralta yard in a Sep. 14, 2012 contest at Yankee Stadium.
"I thought it would take until about the 10th game to start making an impact," Rodriguez said. "It's a process. One game at a time, it's a process, but this is the best I've felt by far. The home run felt good. I couldn't even remember the last time I hit one."
The home run was the highlight, but Rodriguez's third inning at-bat against Austin Wright was also encouraging. Rodriguez saw 12 pitches in the at-bat, fouling off six offerings before ripping a single in the direction of third baseman Maikel Franco.
The third baseman also grounded out in the first and struck out in the seventh. He played seven innings in the field and converted four ground balls hit his way. He also took part in a failed 6-5-4 double-play attempt in the first.
Rodriguez can spend up to 20 days rehabbing in the Yankees' Minor League system, leaving him six days until the July 22 deadline. The infielder said his hope is to return to New York by then.
The Yankee infielder spent his time rehabbing in Tampa, Fla., and complimented the team's medical staff.
"They were great," he said. "They were with me 24 hours a day. They did all I could ask. They helped me get this far."
Rodriguez also talked about the experience of spending extended time in the lower Minor Leagues for the first time since breaking the Majors to stay in 1995. Rodriguez also played with Class A Charleston and Class A Advanced Tampa.
"At the different levels of the Minors, you can see the different reactions of players in the clubhouse, how experienced they are, how they fit in, what they want to ask me," he said. "It's interesting to me to see how that goes on in the Minors today. I haven't played in the Minors in  years, and I find that fascinating."
Trenton put together a three-run top of the ninth to earn the comeback win. After Cody Grice reached on a throwing error by Franco, Ramon Flores and Slade Heathcott singled to plate Grice. Jose Pirela's double drove in Stevenson and Heathcott, giving Trenton a 6-4 lead.
Reading added a run when Cesar Hernandez scored Sebastian Valle with a single in the bottom of the inning. Franco followed with another single, but Jimmy Murphy grounded out to end the game.