SEATTLE -- It will come a tad later than expected, but manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday that Alex Rodriguez will return to the starting lineup for Friday's series opener at Toronto.
The third baseman, who was expected to miss three to four days after his thumb began acting up again last Friday, took grounders and threw long toss before Wednesday's game. Girardi said he would have Rodriguez in the lineup Friday, watch how he does in batting practice and go from there.
"We decided for him to not hit [Wednesday]," Girardi said. "We said, 'You know what, if we can give him two more days before he actually swings on it, it's probably better off for our plans just to put him in their Friday.'"
Rodriguez, who hasn't taken batting practice since Friday, injured his thumb during his first game back from knee surgery on Aug. 21, and it got to the point after Friday's 2-1 loss at Anaheim where the pain was too much.
He has missed the past five games. Frustration is the best word to describe how the 36-year-old has been feeling lately.
"It's one of the most frustrating stretches of my career, just to be sitting back and watching," said Rodriguez, who missed time earlier this season following right knee surgery. "To have a good rehab on my knee, then on the first play -- literally -- they hit it to me and it does that to my thumb. Kind of a freak accident -- it's very frustrating."
Rodriguez, who rolled over on his thumb on a Joe Mauer grounder last Friday, added that his thumb probably won't feel 100 percent until next spring and that "there's not one guy in this clubhouse that's not playing with bumps and bruises." He's played in just 10 games after the All-Star break, hitting .194 with four RBIs.
Burnett's adjustment pays off in 10th win
SEATTLE -- The decision-making process for A.J. Burnett to make a mid-game adjustment in Tuesday's start at Seattle was a quick one.
Burnett had been laboring through the first three innings against the Mariners, hitting two batters, throwing two wild pitches and giving up two runs in that span. He was all over the place and something just didn't feel right.
"I think I went 2-0 on somebody and I was like, 'All right, I can't do it anymore,'" Burnett recalled.
"It" would be the change Burnett and pitching coach Larry Rothschild made three weeks ago before Burnett's start at Boston on Sept. 1. The 34-year-old was moving his hands too much during the windup, so he moved his hands up from his belt to his chin prior to the delivery and kept them up in order to prevent the excess side-to-side movement.
It worked and felt good at Boston, Burnett said, but then it was just "so-so" in his next start at Baltimore.
Through three innings against Seattle, things weren't working out. Burnett was simply not feeling comfortable and went with what he calls a "happy medium."
That medium was a combination of keeping his hands low -- like his old delivery -- but at the same time remembering to stay quiet with the hands and not let them move around to his right shoulder.
The result was impressive. Burnett suddenly felt more loose and settled down to throw three more innings, striking out six and keeping the Mariners hitless the rest of his outing.
"When you make adjustments as a player, it's not easy to think about it when you are on the mound," manager Joe Girardi said. "Sometimes, you have to say, 'You know what, I'm going to do what's comfortable,' and I have a feeling that's what he did last night. Then he stopped thinking about the mechanics so much."
Mariano Rivera preserved the lead with his 600th career save to help Burnett win for the first time since Aug. 15.
"I felt great after that," Burnett said of the change. "It's all about comfort. Obviously, that was more comfortable."
The righty says he plans to keep this "happy medium" for his next start.
"I'm going to stick to it and do the same work that we did in between starts," said Burnett, who's 10-11 this season. "The main thing is making sure my hands stay in the same spot and making sure they don't carry too far so that it allows my arm to drag."
Feliciano might miss 2012 following surgery
SEATTLE -- Pedro Feliciano's two-year contract with the Yankees could end without the left-hander having thrown a regular-season pitch for the club.
The Yankees announced that Feliciano had left rotator cuff surgery on Sept. 8, following an unsuccessful attempt to rehab a torn capsule.
The procedure will threaten his 2012 season as well, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi has raised the possibility that such a serious injury at this late stage could actually end Feliciano's career.
"I would be surprised if he pitched next year," Girardi said.
Feliciano, 35, signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Yankees over the winter, crossing boroughs from the Mets.
He led the Major Leagues in relief outings in each of the last three seasons, setting a record with 266 total appearances over the three-year stretch.
Girardi was asked if he'll ever let Mariano Rivera, who is two saves shy of breaking Trevor Hoffman's all-time saves record, get playing time in center field. It's long been known that the 41-year-old closer, who shags in center field during batting practice, has wanted to play in the outfield.
"It's something I would definitely think about," Girardi said with a laugh. "I'd try to do it for a guy that hits ground balls, and there would be nobody on base where you'd have to make a throw."
Girardi was also asked if he ever wonders what Rivera would have been like if he had remained a starter.
"No," the skipper said quickly. "And I don't want to."
Derek Jeter is riding a season-high 12-game hitting streak after hitting a single in Tuesday's 3-2 win.
Taylor Soper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bryanhoch. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.