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Pregame notes: “My swing is definitely getting back to form”

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Alex Rodriguez [2]

Nothing particularly newsy happening here in Baltimore pregame, so I’m going to let the AP down in Tampa get us started…

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Alex Rodriguez says he feels great and his relationship with the New York Yankees is fine.

Rodriguez didn’t indicate when he will start a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment or rejoin the big league team, saying Saturday he “can’t wait to get back.”

“So far, no issues,” Rodriguez said. “I’m just working really hard. I’m having fun. It’s exciting to be back on the field.”

The All-Star third baseman is taking at-bats at the Yankees’ minor league complex as he comes back from hip surgery in January. He also is fielding grounders, running the bases and doing sliding drills.

“I feel like my swing is definitely getting back to form,” Rodriguez said. “(Defensively) moving better the last few days. Everything is coming along.”

His rehabilitation became a point of contention in the past week.

Rodriguez posted Tuesday evening on Twitter that his hip surgeon had cleared him to play in rehab games, an announcement that angered general manager Brian Cashman because Rodriguez has not been given the go-ahead by team doctors.

When asked if everything is OK with the Yankees, Rodriguez said “absolutely.”

“Ready to get back on the field,” Rodriguez said. “All good.”

Thomas Neal [3]• Don’t expect the Yankees to add someone like Ronnier Mustelier or Brennan Boesch any time soon. Girardi said the guys on the Triple-A disabled list are not close to being activated, and thus nowhere near playing a role in New York. “I don’t think they’re doing much,” Girardi said. “When you look down there – and I’m not saying he would be the guy we would call up – but the only guys really that you could foresee calling up is Thomas Neal possibly again. The position players that we have down there on the roster are all hurt too.”

• Derek Jeter took five more simulated at-bats, and the AP reports that he ran four times first to third and four times from third to first, all on the grass just behind the infield dirt. “The next progression is the bases,” Joe Girardi said.

• Girardi said he thinks the next significant step for Jeter would be getting into a game. He’s not sure when that would happen, but there’s really not other massive landmark before a rehab assignment begins. “With the simulated at-bats, I think the next step would be a game,” Girardi said. “Like a rehab game.”

• The AP says Nunez will play his next rehab game on Sunday. I guess that means he’s getting a day off today. … Francisco Cervelli caught another bullpen today. … Curtis Granderson is able to play catch, but he’s still not hitting.

• Still no word on when Ivan Nova will make his next start. Actually, Nova didn’t even know that the Yankees were planning to have him make a start. “Part of it depends on what we need here,” Girardi said. “Our plan is to kind of throw him against Minnesota somewhere depending on what we need.”

• Lyle Overbay is back in the lineup. Girardi said this will be the norm. He’s not planning to regularly play David Adams at first base against left-handers. The position belongs to Overbay. “I just gave him one day off,” Girardi said. “We’re going to see another lefty on Monday and there’s a good chance he’s going to play on Monday too. Just gave him one day. We’re in a stretch of 20, and if I’m going to give a guy a day off, it’s usually going to be on a day against a lefty.”

• Girardi basically admitted that his hands are fairly tied right now. He knows the offense is struggling, but there’s really not a ton he can do to change it. There just aren’t great options available to him. “You can try some things, but we’ve faced a lot of left-handers, and to take some crazy risks, I don’t believe in doing that,” Girardi said. “You could talk about some hit and runs, but I don’t know if we’re a team that’s really built for a whole lot of that. So it’s just being positive and continuing to encourage the guys and be the same person.” By the way, Girardi said something like having Travis Hafner steal a bunch of bases is the kind of thing he considers a crazy risk not worth taking. So if you were pushing for Hafner to become a base-stealer to get the Yankees out of this funk, you’re probably out of luck.

Associated Press photo