Alex Rodriguez is supposed to play a simulated game tomorrow. After that, he’s supposed to begin some sort of minor league rehab assignment. After that, he’s supposed to be back in the Yankees lineup, playing third base and trying to provide some right-handed power for a team that badly needs it.
Of course, USA Today is citing two different sources saying commissioner Bud Selig really is prepared to hand down a lifetime suspension within the next day or two.
“I think you have to (move forward as if he’s coming back) at this point,” Joe Girardi said. “Nothing’s been handed down, so I think you have to. We expected to have him back at this point. We don’t have him yet, but I know he’s playing in a simulated game tomorrow, and that’s a step in the right direction.”
Brian Cashman said more or less the same thing this afternoon, claiming that Rodriguez’s situation had no impact on the way he approached the trade deadline.
“We’re shooting for Friday for activation on Granderson, and hopefully Alex will be back shortly thereafter,” Cashman said.
How much the Yankees actually believe these things is hard to say. In fairness to Rodriguez — and to themselves, I suppose — they have to go through the necessary steps to get Rodriguez ready. If he does appeal a Biogenesis suspension, and the league doesn’t invoke the collective bargaining agreement, it would be legitimately possible for Rodriguez to be on the field this season.
Whether that will actually happen remains remarkably uncertain, if not unlikely, but the Yankees are preparing themselves for the possibility — however remote — that Rodriguez could be back in the lineup in a matter of days.
“I think everyone wants things to be finalized,” Girardi said. “But even when they’re finalized, they’re not really final. So, it’s a waiting game for a lot of clubs and baseball players, but it will happen soon enough.”
• In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees plan to have Curtis Granderson in the lineup on Friday. Granderson had a hit and two walks in a Double-A rehab game this afternoon. He’ll take tomorrow off to fly to San Diego.
• The plan is less clear for David Phelps, who made his second Double-A rehab start last night. He could be activated soon, or he could make one more rehab appearance. Cashman said he’s not sure what role Phelps will play — starter or reliever — when he comes back. “I would think maximum one more (minor league) outing, but I’m not saying one more outing,” Cashman said.
• Lyle Overbay is out of the lineup simply to avoid a tough left-on-left matchup. With Granderson coming back, the Yankees will have five outfielders. Is it possible either Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells could see some time at first as a right-handed platoon option? “I have not thought about that yet,” Girardi said. “I guess it’s something we can think about. We’ve had Vernon take some ground balls there early in the year and it’s something that I’ll think about.”
• Cashman said there’s still a chance of Kevin Youkilis rejoining the Yankees in late September. “I think that hasn’t declared itself yet, but I know he’s hopeful that’s going to happen,” Cashman said. “And I know the time frame, there’s an outside chance of it happening. I told him, ‘Hopefully we’re in a position to take advantage of welcoming you back.’ If he does get back, hopefully we’re in a position to use him.”
• During this afternoon’s post-deadline conference call, Cashman would not go into specifics about the team’s talks about Michael Young, Phil Hughes or anyone else. “I can tell you we talked to a lot of teams about a lot of players that were available, and certainly the ones that we had an interest in, that were available, we tried to match up and cut a deal, and clearly that didn’t happen,” Cashman said. “I’ll give you that general answer. It takes two teams to match up and feel comfortable with what they’re giving and getting, and we certainly threw a lot of different ideas at a lot of different teams in the national league as well as the American league on a number of concepts, but sometimes you get to show something for that effort and other times you don’t.”
• Not that it’s any sort of surprise, but Cashman said he’s more focused on the wild card than the division at this point. “You have to walk before you can run,” Cashman said. “Right now, obviously we’re closer to the wild card than the division. I didn’t say we can’t win the division, but right now if somebody says 8 1/2, I’ll say 3 1/2.”
Associated Press photos