As you can imagine, there was one primary topic of discussion during Joe Girardi’s pregame media session this afternoon. Alex Rodriguez begins a rehab assignment tomorrow, which means the Yankees expect him to be big league ready in the next three weeks. There are times when the Yankees seem all too eager to be rid of Rodriguez completely, but at this point, they need him.
“I expect him to be a productive player,” Girardi said. “The last time he got his hip fixed he came back productive, and hopefully this will solve some of the things that he was dealing with last year. I expect him to be productive. I can’t tell you exactly what he’s going to do, but I think he’s going to be a good player.”
The video above is Girardi talking about the basics of Rodriguez’s situation. Three things to know…
1. Girardi said he’s not sure how many games Rodriguez will need. A rehab assignment isn’t allowed to last more than 20 days for position players, and 20 days puts Rodriguez back in the big leagues on the Monday after the All-Star break. Girardi said it’s not a given that Rodriguez will need the full 20, but he’s going to need quite a few. “He’s gotten plenty of simulated at-bats,” Girardi said. “But (we) just have to see how he moves around and how his body responds every day.”
2. The plan is for Rodriguez to play third base. He’ll obviously get some DH days when he returns, but Girardi said he expects Rodriguez to be the regular third baseman when he returns. Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are aging players coming off lower-body injuries, and the Yankees have a real need for a right-handed first baseman, but Girardi said there are no plans of having either Rodriguez or Jeter workout at any position except third base and shortstop respectively.
3. Starting a rehab assignment is an acknowledgment that the Yankees believe Rodriguez is fully healthy, just needs to build up the physical part of playing games regularly. “I think that’s fair to say,” Girardi said. “It’s like going into spring training now. You’ve went through the 12, 14 days of work. Now you’re ready to start games. Position players will tell you, they don’t need 35 days of games in spring training. That’s for the pitchers, basically, to build them up.”
Clearly the Yankees need offense, and in theory, a right-handed hitter like Rodriguez is a perfect fit. Of course, whether he can a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat remains to be seen.
“We all know what kind of player he is and what he’s done in this game in the past,” Robinson Cano said. “I would think he’s going to be back, help us to win games and help us get back in the race. … We didn’t know he was hurt (last year). If he’s healthy, he can do a lot of good things in this game. I know fans are going to be on his side. Hopefully he’ll come back and start doing good right away.”
• No date when Eduardo Nunez might be ready, but it’s clear that Nunez and Rodriguez are ahead of the other injured position players. Nunez was rained out again today. He’s been on a rehab assignment since the middle of last week but he’s gotten just three at-bats.
• Derek Jeter took more simulated at-bats today, and Girardi said Francisco Cervelli also took batting practice. Curtis Granderson once again played catch and still hasn’t started hitting. That said, Girardi said it’s still possible Granderson could be back with the Yankees before the end of the month.
• Ivan Nova will stay on the big league roster, but there’s still no plan for when he’ll make this spot start that’s apparently happening sometime before the All-Star break. For now, Nova’s just an extra long man who can’t be used yet because of Saturday’s game.
• Just a day off for Ichiro Suzuki.
• Little surprise, but the latest All-Star voting results show Cano still leading at second base.
• Because he hasn’t pitched much recently, there’s a chance Dave Robertson will pitch in tonight’s game regardless of the score. The Yankees want to get him some work. Girardi said he’s less concerned about Mariano Rivera going several days between appearances. “That’s kind of a line you walk,” Girardi said. “You want to put him in a game, but then you’ve used him two or three days in a row in a game where you shouldn’t have. But Robbie probably needs a little activity.”
Associated Press photo