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Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez surprised by early success, looking to keep it going

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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — Alex Rodriguez is the first one to admit it. He is surprised by his start this season after missing all of last year while serving a drug suspension.

Rodriguez is batting .344 with four homers and 11 RBIs through his first 10 games with the New York Yankees.

"It's kind of cool," Rodriguez said before Saturday night's game at Tampa Bay.

Rodriguez, who turns 40 in July, homered twice and drove in four runs in Friday night's 5-4 win over the Rays. The slugger's 61st multihomer game ran his career total to 658 home runs — just two shy of Willie Mays for fourth place.

"I'm just getting more comfortable each day," Rodriguez said. "The cadence of the game. I've been out of it for 18 months. It's easy to overlook that. I respect this game so much, the fact that this game is so difficult. The grind of playing every day."

PHOTO: New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, right, high fives first base coach Tony Pena after his RBI single off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Kevin Jepsen scored Brett Gardner during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 17, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, right, high fives first base coach Tony Pena after his RBI single off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Kevin Jepsen scored Brett Gardner during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 17, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Rodriguez has been New York's primary designated hitter, which could help out his surgically repaired hip.

"There's a sense that he's going to be productive all year, absolutely," manager Joe Girardi said. "I don't know how you can swing the bat much better than he's swinging it. He looks like he's back to me."

It remains unclear how many days off Rodriguez may need.

"I don't know what kind of rate I can play at," Rodriguez said. "The one thing I'm going to continue to do is communicate with the manager. Joe and I communicate very well."

Rodriguez knows 10 games in April doesn't make it a successful season.

"Let's see if you can do this for six months," he said.

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