Girardi to talk to veteran before determining if he'll play intrasquad game Monday, opener Tuesday
By Barry M. Bloom
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees will play an intrasquad game on Monday at Steinbrenner Field and then open their Grapefruit League schedule on Tuesday against the Phillies in nearby Clearwater, Fla. Whether Alex Rodriguez will be in the lineup both days is still a matter of conjecture.
"I haven't talked to Joe," said Rodriguez, referring to Yankees manager Joe Girardi after a spirited workout on Sunday. "If I'm in the lineup, I'll play."
Asked if he's ready to play on Tuesday, Rodriguez reiterated: "I'll talk to Joe first."
Girardi, who said he hadn't spoken to Rodriguez yet about the possibility, wasn't definitive.
"I'm not sure yet," the manager said.
When pushed to be more explicit, Girardi responded: "I just want him to feel that he's physically ready to go. That's why I'll talk to him.
"I'll say it again. I'm not worried about today. I'm worried about three or four weeks from now. That's what I'm worried about."
The 39-year-old Rodriguez hasn't played in a year because of a Major League Baseball-mandated performance-enhancing drug suspension, and he has played in only 44 games in two years recovering from hip surgery, 27 of them at third base. So he's definitely shaking off the rust.
On Sunday, Rodriguez hit the ball well to all fields, planting five batting-practice pitches beyond the fence at Steinbrenner Field, three to right and two to left, the last one hammering against the scoreboard just off the left-field line. Of course, the BP pitcher, Danilo Valiente, is 49 years old. When asked what he could tell about the state of his swing, Rodriguez joked:
"You could have hit that batting practice, so not much, not much."
About his first days in camp, he added: "I mean, we haven't really done much. We haven't been pushed or challenged, but so far so good."
Rodriguez also worked out at first base and third base, although he has yet to break in a first baseman's mitt.
"It'll be a couple of more days," he said about the new glove.
About playing first base: "It's just fun. It's kind of a completely different perspective," Rodriguez said. "I remember how difficult it was to go from short to third. It's kind of weird in the middle of the infield to go across the mound and play first. Pretty fun."