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News » HE'S COMING BACK Return of Rodriguez

HE'S COMING BACK Return of Rodriguez

HE'S COMING BACK Return of Rodriguez
"A" Day is finally here. Let the circus begin.

Alex Rodriguez will rejoin the Yankees tonight in Baltimore and likely be in the lineup in the opener of a three-game series against the Orioles at Camden Yards, manager Joe Girardi said. Rodriguez is returning a full week before the Yanks' initial projections.

Including last night's game against the Rays, Rodriguez has missed the first 28 games of the season and the Yankees have struggled. While he might not be a cure - especially with all the baggage he brings with him - Rodriguez will certainly help a team that entered last night just 13-14 and lost its first five games against the Red Sox this season.

"It's great having your No. 4 hitter come back," Girardi said. "In a sense, it's like we just made a huge trade because we didn't have him for the first five weeks. Any time is a good time, but yes, now is a good time."

Girardi expects Rodriguez to eventually provide the same high-level of production he has throughout his career. "Does he get four hits the first day?" Girardi said. "You don't know. But Alex is going to put up Alex-type numbers in the time he's here."

Meanwhile, unanswered questions brought up in the Selena Roberts book, "A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez," likely will seep into everyday life for the Yankees . Major League Baseball is investigating whether Rodriguez told the whole truth during the spring when he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs while on the Texas Rangers from 2001-03. There figures to be questions about pitch-tipping, too, which Rodriguez is alleged to have done to friends in blowouts.

"I am sure we'll have a pretty packed clubhouse," said Yankee teammate Johnny Damon, referring to an increase in media attention for a team already covered like the White House.

Rodriguez gave a hint of what was coming after his final workout yesterday at the Yankees' minor-league complex in Tampa, Fla., shaking hands with attendants and saying goodbye. The Yankees announced the news several hours later and Girardi spoke by telephone to Rodriguez, saying, "He's excited to start playing again. I've made it very clear that we missed you, but I also made it clear that we wouldn't pressure you into coming back before you were ready.

"There was a buzz in his voice."

Rodriguez took batting practice before and after a split-squad scrimmage at the complex, played four innings of defense and went 0-for-2 with two walks at the plate. He didn't slide, but said his surgically repaired right hip gave him no problems one day after sliding in a game situation for the first time. He smiled as he took his final cuts, and by all appearances looked like a man who'd seen the last of Tampa for while.

"Dr. Philippon and the others worked their (butts) off with me," Rodriguez said, giving credit to the doctor who performed the March 9 surgery to repair the right labral hip tear, and the staff of trainers on hand who worked with A-Rod late into the evenings on most days as he pushed himself.

Girardi said Rodriguez and the team would discuss his hip every day to determine whether he should play, though Girardi noted that one of the hurdles Rodriguez had to clear before returning was the ability to recover after back-to-back games. There is a scheduled day off Monday, which should help Rodriguez.

"There's no science to it, but we have to be smart," Girardi said. "It's up to what his body tells him and he tells us. The last thing we want to do is overwork him and have him end up on the DL for two or three weeks."

While the Yankees are happy to have Rodriguez back, he doesn't fix all their holes.

"You've got to guard against saying everything is fine and dandy because he's back in the lineup," said captain Derek Jeter said. "We have 25 guys and they all have to do their jobs. ... Yeah, he's going to help - he'd help out any team that he's playing for because of what he is able to do.

"It's not like 'He's back now and he's the savior.' Everybody has to do their job."

Last night's game between the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays ended too late for this edition. For complete coverage, log on to Yankees

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 9, 2009

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