Found July 08, 2013 on MLB Injury News:
For a nineteen-year veteran who has missed half a season, Minor League games are more like Spring Training than rehab. The New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez has put his slow start to his rehab assignment in just that perspective. MLB.com's Adam Berry recapped Rodriguez's progress early on. Rehab statistics So far, Rodriguez (AKA "A-Rod") is just 1 for 9 with no RBI in his first four games. Remember, though, that he had not seen live pitching from last October to July 5. Even when playing last fall, his hip injury hindered him immensely at the end of the season and especially in the postseason, in which he was just 3 for 25 and ended up getting benched. Remember also that hip surgery makes it much tougher to prepare for Major League games than does a normal offseason and Spring Training. Spring Training comparison A-Rod compared his first few rehab games to what he would feel during a normal Spring Training's beginning, saying that he expected to start slowly. Rodriguez spoke to reporters following his 0-for-3 performance on July 7, which included a double play. Said Rodriguez, "If that was March 1, this is like March 5. There's no frustration March 5. It's going to get slower. There's no frustration here. Obviously you want to get back to New York as soon as possible, but there's a process. You've got to be realistic." Berry indicates that A-Rod will need all 20 of the rehab games that MLB allows. A normal Spring Training has approximately 30 games, but many starters do not play much in the first week or two. Therefore, 20 rehab games approaches equivalency. The first goal is to make sure that he is healthy and can handle game activity. So far, A-Rod has not played more than three innings in the field in any game yet. Sunday's game was his fist as DH. He will take Monday off and get back to third base on Tuesday and start working toward playing full games soon afterward. Monitoring physical progress Yankees manager Joe Girardi understands that his third baseman will need more time. MLB.com's Josh Vitale quoted Girardi as watching A-Rod's physical progress first and not worrying about statistics. According to Vitale, conversations between player and manager are more about A-Rod's hip than they are about his numbers. Said Girardi, "You try to watch his at-bats, and how hard he's hitting the ball. The contact is probably the most important thing, not whether he went 2-for-3 or 3-for-4. I'd like to give him seven or eight days before you start to do that and see if you see an improvement, kind of like Spring Training." Fan/media expectancy Fans, though, understandably expect results. Alex Rodriguez is the highest-paid player in MLB history. He is making $28 million this year for what will be less than half of the season. When he does return in late July, he will undoubtedly have full fan and media attention, all of whom will expect him to perform up to his contract. Gone are the days of 50+ home runs (2001-2002) or even 30. Fans and media know that, but for his salary, they expect more than the .272, 18 HR, and 57 RBI that he produced in 2012. Rodriguez still has four more years and $86 million left on his contract. This means that the time for physical progression will end very soon. Once he gets back to the Yankees, production will mean everything. If he does not produce, he will get even more scrutiny. The Yankees cannot "wait and see" too long at that point. That is very likely a main reason why they have started scouting other third baseman such as Philadelphia's Michael Young. All-time home runs Alex Rodriguez is currently fifth on the all-time home run list with 647. He needs just 14 more to catch the legendary Willie Mays (660) for fourth place. Before his injuries and fall off in recent years, he was well on pace to surpass Hank Aaron (755) for the all-time record until Barry Bonds (762) did so in 2007. To pass Bonds, A-Rod needs 116 home runs. His current contract (including partial 2013) calls for an average of 26 per year once he returns. That seems highly unlikely now, but 68 to pass Babe Ruth (714) for third place is much more realistic. A-Rod must produce Alex Rodriguez will play in 2013. How well he plays will be seen. We do know, though, that Yankee fans and New York media expect nothing less than a World Series championship regardless of who is in the lineup. If A-Rod cannot produce, then it is time to find someone who will. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau. Like Raymond’s “Baseball Bureau” page on Facebook. Follow @mlbinjurynews Looking for fantasy baseball advice?
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