Yankees media relations director Jason Zillo was walking through the Yankees clubhouse with some sense of purpose, clearly going from Point A to Point B, not just wandering aimlessly. Zillo had no idea that Alex Rodriguez was behind him, coming up fast, about to pounce. Rodriguez threw his hands onto Zillo’s shoulders and screamed. Startled, Zillo turned around quickly, much to Rodriguez’s amusement.
This was the reality of the Yankees cleanup hitter this morning. Rodriguez was full of hugs and laughs from the minute he walked into the room and greeted Nick Swisher.
“You hope he makes (the lineup) deeper,” Joe Girardi said. “I know he hasn’t played in a while — he hasn’t played in six weeks — and we’re just looking for quality at-bats from him. I can’t tell you what exactly is going to happen today, but that’s our hope. … He could come out and get three hits his first day. That’s what baseball is, you never know how a guy is going to react, so you just have to wait and see.”
Rodriguez only got a handful of minor league at-bats this weekend, and he hasn’t played in a big league game in more than a month. It’s hard to expect him to be a game-changer right away, but it’s fair to hope. The guy has been playing this game for a long time, and he certainly brings some right-handed balance to a left-leaning lineup.
“You have to look at how you’re going to pitch to the guys in front of him,” Girardi said. “He’s been an on-base guy, so now you’ve got guys in the stretch. That’s different. You know at any point he can change the complexion of the game with one swing, and you have to be concerned about that as the opposing pitcher. We saw him swinging the bat pretty good before he got hurt. What does he have, 14 homers? We know he’s capable.”
Girardi said he’ll probably play Rodriguez in the field for one of these three games, but really, he’s taking it day-to-day.
• Next player back in the lineup should be Curtis Granderson. “He’s going to take BP today and we’ll see if he’s available maybe later on today,” Girardi said. “If not, I really believe he’ll be in there tomorrow.”
• Mark Teixeira is also progressing from his strained calf. He took swings inside yesterday, and he’s taking regular batting practice today. He’s not taking groundballs or running, but he hopes to do both tomorrow. He could be back as early as Thursday. If not Thursday, he definitely expects to be back sometime in Baltimore.
• Here’s Teixiera: “It feels more tight now than anything. It’s not like the pain of the injury. When I hurt it, it definitely grabbed and it was sore, but now it’s just tight. … Obviously we don’t want a setback. If there’s a question, we’re going to take an extra day.”
• Girardi said he was pretty sure, but not 100 percent certain, that Andy Pettitte will face hitters on Wednesday.
• Ivan Nova will throw to hitters either Tuesday or Wednesday.
• Casey McGehee can’t be called up just yet, but he has a locker in the clubhouse, so clearly the Yankees are expecting him to re-join the team at the Trop.
• CC Sabathia gets the start again today. “He’s pain-free,” Girardi said. “I’ve checked with him and the trainers, and he’s been good. … This is why you have an ace. You need your ace to pitch well on a day like this.”
• Brian Cashman is on this trip.
Associated Press photos