A-Rod goes 0-for-3 in second rehab appearance
Strikes out twice, scores a run as designated hitter
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- It wasn't exactly a resounding encore, but Alex Rodriguez made it through his second rehabilitation game healthy and ready to move forward.
Playing for the Tampa Yankees in the designated hitter spot, Rodriguez struck out twice, walked once, scored a run and grounded out in a Florida State League contest against the Dunedin Blue Jays, the Class A Advanced affiliate of Toronto.
"It's another positive day moving forward," said Rodriguez, who did not play in the field at third base as originally planned. "Again, anytime you don't have a setback is a good day."
The Yankees had planned to have Rodriguez play five or six innings at third base on Saturday, but they may wait until he joins Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Rodriguez said that he wanted to wait a few more days until making an appearance at third base in a live game. The three-time American League MVP said that he plans on mixing in some infield work along with more plate appearances in what he described as a "game-like situation" on Sunday at the Yankees Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla.
"I think the natural progression for me is better," said Rodriguez, who went 2-for-3 with a solo home run and an RBI double on Friday. "And I've been getting a lot of work done down here with [Pat Roessler, Yankees director of player development, and Mark Littlefield, Yankees head athletic trainer], and I just thought another day at DH was wise."
Rodriguez, who is recovering from a torn meniscus in his right knee, fell victim to strikeouts in his first two plate appearances facing Dunedin starter Drew Hutchinson. He walked on a 3-2 count in his next at-bat against Hutchinson and grounded out to second in his last at-bat against Dunedin right-handed reliever Matt Daly.
It was a far cry from Friday, when Rodriguez began his Minor League rehabilitation assignment by crushing a fastball over the wall at the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Fla.
"Just to be able to drive the ball out of the park, whether it's Class A, Double-A or Triple-A, the fact that I could drive the ball is hopefully a sign of good things to come," said Rodriguez, who is batting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs in 80 games for New York this season. "I wasn't driving the ball like I am used to. So for me the home run meant a little more than just a home run, because over the last several weeks that I was playing [with the Yankees], I wasn't able to drive the ball. My team expects me to hit the ball out of the park and hit with a lot more production, and that's what I expect out of myself too. So hopefully I can come back, hit the ground running and help my team win the division."
While Rodriguez sounded optimistic following Saturday's contest, he appeared rather guarded during his only time on the basepaths. After walking, Rodriguez gingerly advanced to second base on a line-drive single to center off the bat of Kyle Roller. And was even more hesitant when heading towards third base base Kelvin Castro bunted -- a situation that almost called for a slide when Hutchinson fielded the ball and faked a throw to first before committing an error on a toss to first.
Rodriguez then was given an easy opportunity to saunter home when DeAngelo Mack hit into a fielder's choice to second.
Rodriguez is coming back from July 11 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee that had sapped his power. The third baseman endured a career-long homerless streak of 85 at-bats following the injury on June 19 at Wrigley Field.
"It's just a matter of ramping it up now," Rodriguez said. "I think with my knee, obviously I had a tear in my knee so my rotation wasn't as explosive. The health of the knee is good now, and it's all about ramping it up."
Rodriguez said he expects to get 10 at-bats against "three or four pitchers" on Sunday morning in a "game-like situation."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he anticipates Rodriguez seeing more time as the designated hitter upon his return to the Yankees.
"He could play a couple in Scranton and be ready to go," Girardi said.
"I'll just try to monitor that," Girardi said. "We can possibly DH him two or three times a week if we need to. We'll have that option. If we have to work him back slowly, getting him in shape where he can play four or five days in the field, then we can do that."
The Yankees have won 20 of 30 games in Rodriguez's absence entering play on Friday.
"The team's playing so well and I want to just get back there and help," Rodriguez said. "I'm not comfortable being here. You get to the point where you're miserable and you just want to be back with your teammates. I miss my friends. These guys are my brothers, and I couldn't be more proud of the way they're playing."
Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.