© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

08/10/11 7:20 PM ET

A-Rod will ease back to field in rehab stint

NEW YORK -- The Yankees are looking to get Alex Rodriguez back into a lineup on Friday, planning on having him serve as a designated hitter in a Minor League rehabilitation game.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Rodriguez will play for either Class A Advanced Tampa or the Gulf Coast League Yankees in Tampa, Fla., and then could play third base in a rehab game on Saturday.

"It looks like he could possibly start a game Friday as the DH and then go from there," Girardi said. "Hopefully, he'll play the field on Saturday and we'll see where he's at."

The Yankees expect to get Rodriguez back for their upcoming road trip to Kansas City and Minnesota, but Girardi said that he was not sure the three-time Most Valuable Player would be ready for the first game of the trip on Monday.

"My guess would be no, but I can't tell you that for sure," Girardi said. "It just depends how he feels each day."

Rodriguez worked out at the Yankees' facility in Tampa on Wednesday as he continues to come back from July 11 surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee.

The Yankees were 18-10 without Rodriguez entering Wednesday's game against the Angels.

Yankees not concerned by Mo's 'blip'

NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera has not been his usual level of "automatic" in his last couple of outings, but the Yankees aren't close to pushing the panic button for their legendary closer.

Rivera served up a two-run homer to the Angels' Bobby Abreu on Tuesday, taking the loss in a 6-4 defeat. That came one game after he blew his fifth save of the year, coughing up a lead to the Red Sox at Fenway Park in a 3-2 loss.

"Usually when Mo has his little blips in the stream, sometimes they come back-to-back and then he runs off a really good streak," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "If my sense is right, I think that's what will happen. It's just a little blip here."

Rivera, 41, has enjoyed another strong season, posting a 2.23 ERA in 46 appearances this season with 29 saves. But the fact that he served up a homer to a left-handed hitter like Abreu was enough to raise some eyebrows.

"It's hard to make good contact against him," Abreu said. "The ball comes in to you and breaks down really quick with the cutter, and sometimes you don't have enough time to catch it up front, but I got lucky [Tuesday]."

Rivera said that it was a cutter that didn't cut, very much a rarity for him.

"It can happen any time," Rivera said. "You have to make sure the pitch gets there. This time, I didn't."

But the Yankees have noticed another quirk of late: left-handed hitters have had slightly more success against Rivera than they're used to.

After Rivera held lefties to a .214 (22-for-103) average last year, that number has jumped to .267 (20-for-75) this season, a good leap from his lifetime .208 average against lefties.

"His velocity is not quite what it used to be," Girardi explained. "It seems like when I caught him, it was anywhere from 94-98 [mph]. Now, you're seeing 90-93. That's going to make a little bit of a difference.

"Mo, year in and year out, is one of the best closers in the game -- whether he's lost a little bit on his fastball or not."

Abreu, a former teammate of Rivera's, agreed and said that No. 42 is still as tough an opponent as he ever was.

"He is -- he's the best closer in the game," Abreu said. "He's a future Hall of Famer. He still has it. It was a bad day for him [Tuesday], but we know what kind of pitcher he is."

Bombers bits

• The Yankees were visited on Wednesday by NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick, who helped honor retiring head athletic trainer Gene Monahan -- an avid auto racing fan -- by setting up a driving experience for the longtime Bombers employee after this season in Florida. Harvick also threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

• Prior to facing Angels right-hander Garrett Richards on Wednesday, the Yankees had lost their last six games in which they had been opposed by a starting pitcher making his Major League debut. Their last win in such a situation came on May 1, 2004, when they bested the Royals' Eduardo Villacis, 12-4, at the original Yankee Stadium.

• Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner entered play on Wednesday having stolen 22 consecutive bases, a career-long stretch and the longest by a Yankee since Derek Jeter swiped 22 straight from July 20, 2001, to June 2, 2002, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

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.