Yankees 7, Phillies 4

Walking by Alex Rodriguez’s locker, Reggie Jackson saw a crowd

of reporters.

”Ask him if he’s going to hit 1.000,” Mr. October said.

A-Rod got his spring training season off to a perfect start.

Rodriguez homered on the first pitch he saw – from Roy Halladay,

no less – and added an RBI double and single Sunday that led the

New York Yankees over the Philadelphia Phillies 7-4.

”I’m just lucky that it was the first inning, that he’s not

quite warmed up yet,” Rodriguez said. ”He’s probably going to be

mad next time I face him. He’s the greatest pitcher in our

game.”

Rodriguez, whose power numbers dropped during an injury filled

season in 2011, hit an opposite-field solo homer to right in the

first inning. He did not play Saturday in the Yankees’ exhibition

opener.

”It’s better than striking out,” Rodriguez said. ”It’s good

to feel good and get off to a good start. Staying healthy is the

most important thing, and I’m making an effort towards that.”

The first at-bat homer after a long break is nothing new for

Rodriguez, who hit a three-run drive on May 8, 2009, on the first

pitch he saw from Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie. Rodriguez had been

sidelined up until to that point after hip surgery.

”One of my big parts of my job this year is keeping him healthy

and fresh,” Yankees manger Joe Girardi said. ”Three really good

swings. Seeing him go to right field the first swing and then pull

two balls just tells me that he feels explosive.”

Rodriguez had just 16 homers and 62 RBIs in 99 games last

season, a year in which the slugger had right knee surgery, a

sprained left thumb and sore left shoulder.

”It was hit good,” Halladay said. ”It was one of those

pitches (a sinker) I was trying to get in and left it over.

Probably as center-cut as you can get.”

Halladay allowed one run, two hits and struck out three in two

innings. The two-time Cy Young Award winner, coming off a 19-6

season, struck out two to work out of a two-on, no-outs jam in the

second inning.

”I was really happy with location. I was happy with the way I

felt,” Halladay said. ”But just getting the regular arm slot I

think is what I’m really trying to lock in right now. About 80

percent of the time it was good. So, I’ve got a little ways to

go.”

Hunter Pence hit a two-run homer for Philadelphia. He also

connected Saturday against the Yankees.

Philadelphia is without first baseman Ryan Howard, being treated

for an infection around his surgically repaired Achilles tendon.

Howard will be in a walking boot for the next seven to 10 days, and

there is no timetable for when he will resume an on-field

rehabilitation program.

Freddy Garcia, bidding to make the Yankees’ rotation, gave up

two runs and four hits in two innings.

”You’ve got to fight for a spot,” Garcia said. ”I’ve got to

do my job and go from there.”

The Yankees’ spring training home opener, which included pregame

introductions of former stars like Jackson, Goose Gossage and Lou

Piniella, was played with a gusty wind that partially ripped the

American flag flying behind the center-field fence.

The crosswind from left-field corner toward right at a sustained

17 mph didn’t impact Pence in the first when he connected on a

two-run homer into the breeze.

Notes: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is scheduled to throw

batting practice for the first time Monday and could pitch in a

game next weekend. The 42-year-old, who will throw around eight

innings during spring training games, said his preparation process

is ”right on track.” … Phillies RHP Jose Contreras (elbow

surgery) is throwing batting practice. … New York reliever Joba

Chamberlain (elbow ligament replacement surgery) is set to add

sliders to his bullpen sessions in a week. … Joan Steinbrenner,

the wife of former owner George Steinbrenner, was among the family

members at the game. George Steinbrenner died in July 2010 at the

age of 80.