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Pregame notes: A-Rod reportedly facing lifetime ban

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Alfonso Soriano [2]

You might have noticed no Alfonso Soriano in the Yankees lineup tonight.

There were early reports that the Yankees and Cubs were close to a Soriano trade this morning, but things have been fairly quite since then. A source told me this afternoon that the Yankees were not close to a deal. A few hours ago, MLB Trade Rumors linked to a radio interview of Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer [3]who said the same thing.

“That’s very premature,” Hoyer said. “We’ve had some discussions with different teams about Sori. There’s nothing close at all. That’s one of those rumors you wake up to and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. I didn’t know we had done that.’ That’s not nearly as advanced as those reports make it seem.”

The Yankees reason for interest in Soriano is pretty easy to understand. The team needs a right-handed hitter in the worst way, and Soriano would seem to be readily available. He might not be what he once was, but he’s shown he can still be a dangerous hitter.

“I don’t see any reason why (he can’t be a productive hitter),” Derek Jeter said. “I also don’t watch the Cubs games. I’ve barely watched our games, so I haven’t watched the Cubs. Everybody knows how I feel about Sori. I’ve said it when we traded for Al, he’s someone that you develop a relationship with guys and you miss them when they leave. We had a great relationship. … I enjoyed playing with Sori, but I don’t know what our team is doing or not doing.”

Alex Rodriguez [4]• Jim Axelrod of the CBS Evening News is reporting that Alex Rodriguez could be facing a lifetime ban [5] from baseball. If that’s the case, have to believe Rodriguez would either take a plea deal for something smaller — but still significant — or fight this thing with everything he’s got.

• Michael Pineda was pulled after just 39 pitches in Triple-A tonight. He’d pitched three scoreless innings. Brian Cashman said it’s not an injury, just “innings management.”

• David Phelps is pitching for Double-A Trenton tonight, and Josh Norris reports that he’s scheduled for four innings. [6] “We’ll have to see how far he goes tonight, then I’ll probably have a better idea where we think he’s at,” Girardi said.

• Derek Jeter took batting practice on the field with his teammates today. He also took ground balls and was expecting to run for the first time since straining his quadriceps.

• Travis Hafner’s struggling and out of the lineup tonight. Girardi said he wanted to put Melky Mesa in the outfield with a fly ball pitcher on the mound, and he’s liked Vernon Wells’ at-bats lately. But clearly Hafner isn’t doing nearly what the Yankees need him to do. “I don’t really see a lot that’s different in his setup or his swing,” Girardi said. “I don’t really see a lot (different from April), but he’s not being productive is what I see.”

• Luis Cruz landed hard trying to make a play last night, and Girardi said he’s not sure Cruz would be available today. “He’s sore today,” Girardi said. “We’ll continue to evaluate him day-by-day and see what we think, but he’s a little sore today.”

• Obviously Austin Romine’s neck issue is better. Girardi has paired Romine and Hughes together quite a bit lately. “I always felt that it was easier for me if I (caught) the same guy a lot of times because you have a pretty good understanding of what he likes to do in certain situations,” Girardi said. “That’s why I choose to do that.”

• Random observation from the visiting clubhouse here in Arlington. The place is full of paintings of various baseball players, and yesterday there was one of Justin Verlander and Ryan Braun to celebrate their MVP awards in 2011. I doubt it’s a coincidence that the painting was gone today.

Associated Press photos