NEW YORK -- As the threat of Hurricane Irene looms over a four-game series between the Orioles and Yankees in Baltimore this weekend, the two sides discussed the possibility of playing a pre-emptive doubleheader on Friday, but the O's said they would not do it.

The two clubs are scheduled to play five games in four days, including a doubleheader on Saturday, but it's likely that Saturday and Sunday's games will be washed out. Either way, the hurricane is expected to force the Yankees and O's to make up at least two games at some point later in the season.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said his club will set its starting pitching day by day, adding that if there were to be a doubleheader on Friday, he would start A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova.

"It could be a mess, so I can't really tell you," Girardi said. "We were going to activate Freddy [Garcia] on Saturday, and does that get pushed back just because we're not going to play Saturday? There are a ton of scenarios."

A-Rod collects two hits in return to lineup

NEW YORK -- Third baseman Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees' lineup in Thursday's 22-9 rout of the A's, going 2-for-4 with two walks and three runs scored.

After spending a month and a half on the disabled list to recover from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, Rodriguez returned on Sunday but sprained his left thumb against Minnesota and had remained sidelined since.

"The first day or two is all about overcoming the fear that something will break, something will get hurt," Rodriguez said after Thursday's game. "After my first at-bat, I felt pretty good."

Rodriguez is batting .293 with a .366 on-base percentage and a .478 slugging percentage in 82 games this season. He has hit 13 home runs and driven in 52 runs.

"The knee feels good," Rodriguez said. The one benefit of taking that extra day or two is that my knee got extra rest, and that felt good."

Yanks have made most of home dimensions

NEW YORK -- Wednesday night's 6-4 Yankees loss to the A's in 10 innings not only pushed New York out of first place in the American League East, it also clinched the club's first home series loss since it was swept by the Red Sox from June 7-9.

After that sweep, the Yankees won their next nine home series and split a two-game set with the Rays. Between the June sweep and the beginning of the Oakland series on Tuesday, the Yankees went 23-8 at Yankee Stadium. Manager Joe Girardi attributes the team's recent home success to the park's dimensions, which play to the strengths of his power hitters.

"I think we're built for our park, and I think that's one of the reasons that we've been so successful here," Girardi said. "The other thing is, we're a pretty good team, too, and that helps. But I think we're built for this park."

Wednesday's loss brought the Yankees' home record this season to 40-26, which is actually a smidge worse than their 37-24 record away from home. Center fielder Curtis Granderson said he doesn't think the Stadium's structure helps the Yankees because their opponents face the same dimensions. He did say the team might get some sort of boost from the atmosphere created by its fans.

"I think the fact that you do have the fans on your side cheering for you and possibly putting a little pressure on the other team could have a little to do with it," Granderson said. "It helps to some extent, but after you come down to play, no matter what, both sides end up kind of quieting that stuff down once you actually step out on the field."

Bombers bits

Yankees left-handed relievers Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte each began a Minor League rehab assignment on Thursday with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in Tampa, Fla. Feliciano, who has been out all season with a left rotator cuff strain, struck out one in a scoreless inning.

Marte was less successful, giving up six runs on six hits in just two-thirds of an inning. Marte has missed all season with left shoulder inflammation.