SAN DIEGO – Some athletes are born to play baseball. That’s how it is for Aztecs freshman infielder Alex Rodriguez. And why not with a name like that?

“When I was born in 2002, my dad, who works in Major League Baseball, his favorite player was Alex Rodriguez,” SDSU’s Rodriguez said. “And he told my mom, ‘Hey, let’s name him Alex. Maybe that would be awesome.'”

Thus, a life of baseball began. A-Rod, as his teammates and coaches naturally call him, grew up in Upland and originally enrolled at USC. After not playing at all in 2021, he transferred to SDSU.

He said carrying the same name as one of the most famous players in baseball history has provided its challenges — and motivations.

“Being named Alex Rodriguez, guys would say this and that,” he said. “Especially when the stuff (steroid use) came out about him, there was a lot of downside about it. But other than that, people have gotten better with it. I still hear things when I’m playing, like, ‘Oh that’s not A-Rod, that’s a fake Alex Rodriguez.’ And I’m like, ‘Hey, I was born that way. I didn’t have any choice with the name.’ But I love it.

“Whenever they say that stuff, it makes me laugh and makes me play better, I think.”

This Alex Rodriguez has some similarities with the other Alex Rodriguez who played 22 years in the big leagues and hit 696 home runs. Each stands taller than 6-foot-2, both play infield and both bat and throw right handed.

And yes, both wear the No. 13 on their uniform.

“When Alex committed, I said, ‘You’re No. 13,’” Aztecs coach Mark Martinez said. “We had to do the 13 deal and he’s pretty fired up about it.”

Rodriguez did the number proud in his first weekend on the Mesa, winning the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Week award. Since his father, Mike, works as a sports agent, he’s had the opportunity to meet and work out with several current major leaguers.

“All the players will come over in the area and we’ll go hit together and hit ground balls,” he said. “I get to ask them ‘How did you do this or that?’ I get to learn from them as much as I possibly can. That’s a cool thing.”

A-Rod plans to spend at least three seasons at SDSU and then hopes to begin a professional career of his own. Humble yet confident, the 19-year-old says he seems himself as the second Alex Rodriguez to play.

“Yes, for sure,” he said. “Just with the hard work and ability I have, I’ll be there for sure.”