Ivan Nova takes the mound in about an hour, the weekend series against Boston doesn’t start until tomorrow and there was no real breaking news coming out of the Yankees clubhouse this afternoon. Today’s most significant development happened in Tampa, where Alex Rodriguez began baseball drills, so I’ll start today’s pregame notes with the latest from the Associated Press down in Florida, then I’ll jump in with some nuggets from Chicago.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Alex Rodriguez refused to discuss a Major League Baseball investigation into his involvement in illegal poker games, ending an interview Thursday with a one-word answer.
The New York Yankees had said the injured star would stop his post-workout media session at the team’s minor league training complex if any reporter posed an non-baseball question.
Rodriguez spoke for several minutes about his recovery from knee surgery. But when asked if he would not discuss the poker games, he said “yep” and walked to his car.
Rodriguez’s publicist, however, said the slugging third baseman was looking forward to cooperating with MLB in its poker probe.
Star Magazine reported last month that several people saw A-Rod playing in games hosted at Hollywood hotels and residences.
Richard Rubenstein, Rodriguez’s publicist, said in a statement Thursday morning that the Star’s story contains “numerous factual inaccuracies.”
“I think I’ll have a much better indication over the next 48 hours,” he said. “I’m curious to see how my body reacts, responds tomorrow. Tomorrow and the next day will be a good indication.”
The 36-year-old Rodriguez arrived at the Yankees’ minor league complex just before noon, pulling up in his Mercedes and waving to a group of 25 or so fans before entering the building.
This was his first on-field activity since having right knee surgery July 14. He worked out for a half-hour, doing light running, playing catch, taking grounders and hitting in the batting cage off a tee and against a soft toss. He wore a light brace on the knee and showed no signs of difficulty moving. Rodriguez then went inside to ice the knee and run in the pool.
“I feel good. A good day today. Encouraging first day out there on the field and felt pretty good,” said Rodriguez, who signed autographs before talking to the media outside the complex.
Rodriguez said the intensity of the workouts will be increased each day.
“Hopefully 5, 10 percent more every day and see over the next four, five days (how it goes),” Rodriguez said. “It will be a big key to see when I can actually get back on the field for real.”
Rodriguez is hitting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs.
• Joe Girardi said the Yankees haven’t made a decision about what to do with Ivan Nova after tonight’s game, and he also indicated that tonight’s performance might not be a significant factor in what happens next. “There’s decisions that we’re going to have to make,” Girardi said. “But his work has been good and, as I said, I don’t make too much of one start whether it’s great or whether it’s bad. We’ll just have to discuss what we’re going to do.”
• Could the Yankees make a move to give themselves a full bench before getting to Boston? “That’s something we’ll talk about tonight and maybe after the game or tomorrow,” Girardi said. “We’ll just have to see.”
• Girardi said he’s not sure what Rodriguez’s schedule will beyond today. He said Rodriguez is supposed to increase the intensity tomorrow, but he’s not sure to what extent. He said it could be a full week of workouts before Rodriguez is ready to play in a game, but that’s a very vague estimate. Girardi’s really not sure how long it will be.
• Both Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia flew ahead of the team, leaving for Boston before tonight’s game. That’s a whole lot of baseball player on one flight.
• Eric Chavez is back in the lineup after his four-RBI game last night. He’s been a nice addition, quickly helping to fill the Rodriguez void. “He’s been good, defensively or offensively,” Girardi said. “He played so well before he got hurt, we weren’t sure if we were going to get him back. The foot was like, we’re going to try this and hopefully we’re going to get through this and he’s not going to have surgery. I’m really pleased because there were a lot of days were I felt like we missed him. There were some opportunities for him to play and be a big part of our lineup but we didn’t have him.”
• Obviously there was a lot of pregame talk about the Yankees heading into Boston. Just as obvious, the Yankees didn’t like looking ahead. “All the games are big,” Derek Jeter said. “Our game tonight is big. I’ve always been a firm believer in, if we win our games we’ll be where we want to be. If we were going to Tampa tomorrow I’d tell you the same thing. If we were going to Kansas City tomorrow I’d tell you the same thing. We need to continue to play well and win games. If we do that, then at the end of the year we’ll be where we want to be.”
Juan Pierre LF
Alexi Ramirez SS
Paul Konerko DH
Adam Dunn 1B
Carlos Quentin RF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Gordon Beckham 2B
Alejandro De Aza CF
Brent Morel 3B
Associated Press photos