The New York Yankees have received great news in that their captain and star shortstop Derek Jeter returned to the lineup on July 11. Now, they await similar news for third baseman Alex Rodriguez. That news will take longer to come, but as MLB.com's Bryan Hoch and Josh Vitale report, the Yankees will not rush it.
At this point, the Yankees expect Rodriguez to take all 20 of the Minor League rehab games that MLB allows. Since he started playing on July 2 and he has the All-Star break off, that would set his return date to the last week of July.
In six games as of July 11, Rodriguez is 2 for 15 with one RBI combined in Class A Charleston and Advanced A Tampa. The good news is that he has started to make more consistent contact. His three strikeouts came early, and his two hits have come in his last two games. Last night, he picked up his first RBI on a single. While he had just that one hit, Rodriguez discussed his progress and approach.
"I was happy with all three at-bats. I thought my work before and after the game was good. In this process, there are going to be some good days and bad days. Today was a good day."
Rodriguez explained that he is treating the rehab games more like Spring Training and that physical progress and getting his repetitions are the most important things right now. He will continue to alternate between third base and designated hitter as he also works on patience and pitch selection.
Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner expressed confidence in Rodriguez's progress but understands that it will take time. Said Steinbrenner,
"He's just in the process of coming back. It's going to take a little while for him to get the whole timing down and everything else.... He was popping the ball good in batting practice, so he just has to get his timing down with pitching again."
The Yankees still have holes to fill, especially at third base. Kevin Youkilis is out until late August, and Jayson Nix has no timetable set at all. Jeter will help tremendously on the right side, and that will likely move Eduardo Nunez to third while the Yankees await Rodriguez's return. Any offense Rodriguez can provide will greatly help.
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