08/18/11 7:43 PM ET
A-Rod back with team, but not yet ready
By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com
Rodriguez, who had surgery on July 11 to repair torn meniscus in his right knee, worked out Thursday afternoon at Target Field, and said he was happy just to be back with his teammates. He said he's comfortable right now swinging the bat, and that his fielding and conditioning need the most work.
"If I felt like hitting was the one thing that was most behind, it would probably be productive to be down in either Tampa or Scranton and get in a bunch of at-bats," Rodriguez said. "This situation's a little bit rare, where conditioning's the most important thing and fielding's the most important thing, and those are things that I can do here with our staff."
When he does return, Rodriguez likely will see time as the Yankees' designated hitter along with playing third base.
Communication between the three-time American League MVP and Yankees manager Joe Girardi will be important in putting him in the right position each day to help him get back to normal.
"We could DH him a day, play him in the field, DH him a day. Just constant communication," Girardi said. "If he needs a day off, I'll give him a day off. But he's been out for six weeks. You're not working out that whole six weeks. He had to rest for some of that."
Rodriguez worked extensively on fielding Thursday, while also doing some running work in the outfield with strength and conditioning coach Dana Cavalea. Also on the schedule for Rodriguez was some work before Thursday's game in the weight room, and another on-field session Friday afternoon.
"What we did today is probably the most productive day that I've had in about a week," Rodriguez said. "We're on a big league field with a big league staff, and I was able to actually go out and run as close to 100 percent as I've had since post-surgery."
Before the surgery, Rodriguez was hitting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs. He also had 67 walks and 32 strikeouts.
While he was hitting for a high average, Rodriguez saw his power numbers decline, in part due to the pain in his knee, which forced him to use his hands more, rather than staying back on the ball.
When he returns, Rodriguez hopes to once again be the big bat in the middle of the Yankees' lineup.
"To be the productive hitter that I've always been, being in the middle of the lineup and really give us a shot in the arm driving in big runs and hitting home runs," Rodriguez said of his expectations. "I think that's the reason we chose to have the operation. I was swinging the bat well and producing and getting hits, but my value is to do a lot more than just get base hits."
While injuries have forced him to miss a number of games in the past few years, Rodriguez still sees himself as an everyday third baseman, and one that can hit 30 home runs and collect 100 RBIs.
"Cal Ripken was always my role model, and he played until what, 40, 41?" said Rodriguez, who turned 36 while he was on the DL. "You can always find a guy that has a little bit more range at third. But if you can be a guy who can produce 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs and make 10 or 12 errors, I think anybody will sign up for that."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.