An idea first proposed to Alex Rodriguez back in October will finally take place Sunday.

Joe Girardi said that A-Rod, who has never played anywhere but shortstop, third or designated hitter in his 20-year career, will start at first base Sunday afternoon against the Astros.

"I'm excited," said Rodriguez, who went 1-for-2 with a walk in the Yankees' 10-0 rain-shortened victory over the Phillies on Friday. "I told Joe to really keep a close eye on me. He said he will."

This will be only the fifth start of spring training for the 39-year-old A-Rod in the field. The previous four were at third base.

"He hasn't played a ton of field because, as I've said, I thought the most important thing was getting him at-bats and getting him comfortable," Girardi said.

A-Rod hasn't always looked comfortable at the plate, but he's looked better than many thought he would, his hit Friday increasing his average this spring to .303.

"I feel I'm in a good place," said Rodriguez.

Whether he feels he's in a good place at first base remains to be seen. Rodriguez has done limited work there with infield coach Joe Espada and bench coach Rob Thomson and will do extensive drills there before Saturday's game against the Orioles.

"It should be ready by Sunday, I hope," said A-Rod.

Verlander leaves start

Detroit righthander Justin Verlander cramped up in the third inning of his fifth start of the spring and was forced to leave the game.

Verlander left with a right triceps cramp, the team said, and will be re-evaluated Saturday. He is expected to make his next start.

"It doesn't seem like anything serious," he said. "Talking to the trainers, it's not near my shoulder. It's nowhere near my elbow. It feels like a cramp."


•Danny Salazar's spring didn't go the way he or the Indians hoped. He's going back to the minors — again.

The Indians optioned the righthander to Class AAA Columbus on Friday, ending his shot at winning one of the club's two open spots in the starting rotation.

The 25-year-old was roughed up in a start Thursday, getting tagged for six earned runs — two homers — and six hits in 3⅓ innings.

In four spring outings, Salazar went 1-2 with an 8.18 ERA, allowing 14 hits and 10 runs in 11 innings.

•Mariners reliever David Rollins was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for Stanozolol, a synthetic anabolic steroid. Rollins, who said he took the steroid to try to return from an injury, will not appeal the suspension.

•The White Sox claimed pitcher Kyle Drabek off waivers from Toronto. Over parts of five seasons with the Blue Jays, the 27-year-old righthander went 8-15 with a 5.27 ERA.