TAMPA – His Saturday workout at the Yankees’ minor league complex complete, Alex Rodriguez pulled his Maybach up next to a small group of reporters near the parking lot exit and rolled down the passenger side window. He spoke very briefly about the progress made in rehabbing from his January hip surgery and, at one point, said “I think we’re on schedule.”
When asked what exactly the schedule is, Rodriguez didn’t give an answer, only a grin, and said “thanks guys, we’ll see you tomorrow.”
Then the window started rolling up.
Rodriguez clearly has taken a lesson from the past week’s controversy over when he will be ready to play in a minor league rehab game. After using Twitter to announce his surgeon had cleared him to play in games, Brian Cashman rebuked him with a four-letter word that he later had to apologize for. The message was clear that such information will come from the organization, and A-Rod and managing partner Hal Steinbrenner spoke about that face-to-face this week.
Sources told the Daily News a week ago that Rodriguez would be able to start playing in games on Monday, if the Yankees approved. But still the team hasn’t said a word.
The Yankees slugger said there is no one aspect of the game or his recovery from surgery that is holding him up.
“So far no issues,” he said. “I’m just working really hard. We have a great staff down here. They’ve been doing a great job . . . I just can’t wait to get back on the field and help my team win.”
Asked about his hitting, he said “I feel like my swing is definitely getting back to form. I hit a ball to right center the other day that I couldn’t have hit last year to save my life. So it’s getting better.
Hitting drills are a main focus of Alex Rodriguez’s recovery process.
Asked about his mobility and defense, A-Rod answered “I’m moving better the last few days. It’s been a lot better and everything is coming along. I think we’re on schedule.”
And he added that in the sliding drills that can put so much pressure on the hips, that he feels no pain at all. “They were pop-up slides. They were full speed,” he said. “So you know, one step closer.”
Rodriguez has been doing everything this week from hitting against minor league pitchers to infield practice and baserunning. As far as evaluating his performance overall he said “I feel great. I am having fun. It’s exciting to be back on the field. It’s been nice and hot down here for all of us. I just can’t wait to get back. I’m feeling pretty darn good.”
Shortstop Derek Jeter, rehabbing from a broken left ankle, may have advanced in his progress toward a rehab assignment on Saturday when he ran along the arc at the top of the infield. Jeter said Thursday he still has to run the bases before that could happen.
“He’s done arcs on the infield,” manager Joe Girardi said. “The next progression is the bases.”
He also took infield practice and five simulated at-bats against a pair of minor league pitchers.
Girardi added that the next step for Jeter “would be a game, like a rehab game.”
Infielder Eduardo Nunez, coming back from a strained left oblique, worked out with Rodriguez in the batting cages at Steinbrenner Field because of bad weather. He will play five innings for Class-A Tampa today against Dunedin, his third rehab game. Nunez already had one setback in his recovery and said he is trying to feel confident that his injury is fully healed but worries about aggravating it. He is yet to play a full nine-inning game but said “I don’t feel anything so far.”
– With Mark Feinsand