LOS ANGELES — Alex Rodriguez had to make some adjustments when he switched from shortstop to third base after signing with the New York Yankees. He is having the same type of learning curve as a game analyst.
Rodriguez said he is happy with the improvements he has made in his second year in the booth for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” but he is looking to get better during the second half of the season.
“I certainly feel better than I did last year. I think the flow between all of us is improving,” Rodriguez said last week while in Los Angeles, where he called a pair of Dodgers games.
Rodriguez was a pleasant surprise when he joined Fox’s studio team in 2015, but studio work involves a finite amount of time and isn’t happening while the game is taking place. A game has plenty of ebbs and flows over three hours and can be a challenge when a three-person booth is involved.
Rodriguez said the biggest challenge has been learning when to join into the conversation with Matt Vasgersian and Jessica Mendoza, along with still discovering when would be the proper time to interject an anecdote about a player or manager.
“I think I’m doing a better job of being in the moment and reacting to what is going on in front of me, which is helping the flow,” he said.
When it comes to what is happening on the field, Rodriguez said the biggest surprises in the American League has been the play of the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees. The Twins have emerged as one of the top power-hitting teams, while the Yankees are leading the AL East despite of a rash of injuries.
In the National League, Rodriguez considers the Los Angeles Dodgers to be the favourite, but he does see a couple of flaws.
“They definitely are an offensive juggernaut, but their bullpen needs to be more consistent,” he said.
Rodriguez said he didn’t find out until after the June 9 Cardinals-Cubs game in Chicago that David Ortiz had been shot in the Dominican Republic. He said he was shocked to hear the news about his close friend but has been in contact with the family.
Ortiz has been moved out of intensive care at Massachusetts General Hospital and remains in good condition.
“I look forward to talking baseball with him soon,” Rodriguez said.
ESPN’s Sunday night telecasts are averaging 1.5 million viewers, which is the same as last season, despite beginning an hour earlier.
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Joe Reedy, The Associated Press