A-Rod happy to be back despite hitless return

A-Rod happy to be back despite hitless return

NEW YORK -- The first results from Alex Rodriguez's return to the designated-hitter slot did not wow anyone, but as the Yankees slugger continues to work on his timing, he is happy to be getting those reps at the big league level.

Rodriguez went hitless in four at-bats in the Yankees' 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday, marking his first big league activity since straining his right hamstring on May 3 against the Orioles in Baltimore.

"It was awesome. I really enjoyed being back," Rodriguez said. "Obviously, I didn't enjoy the results of the loss, but it's always good to be back. Happy to be here."

Rodriguez's return allowed Carlos Beltran to return to right field after an extended stint as the interim DH. Beltran was the Yankees' hottest hitter on their recent road trip but struggled as New York was stifled by left-hander J.A. Happ, picking up a "Golden Sombrero" with strikeouts in all four plate appearances.

Manager Joe Girardi bristled when asked about how often he plans to have Beltran spell Rodriguez in the DH role.

"Let's not keep stirring this and stirring this, and everything we over-evaluate," Girardi said. "Carlos had a rough day. A lot of our right-handers had a rough day today against Happ. Alex is going to DH. Carlos is going to DH some too."

Girardi has noted that he believes Rodriguez wore down physically in the second half last season, so a few extra days off here and there could help keep both Beltran and Rodriguez fresh. Beltran said he enjoys the game more when he is fully involved in the outfield.

"I felt good today out there, honestly, being a DH for I don't know how many days," Beltran said. "Having Alex back in the lineup, we know that Alex is a guy that can hit and can impact the game with one swing of the bat. Right now, he just needs to see some games and hopefully he's able to get his timing."

Rodriguez said that he feels confident at the plate, having homered in his final Minor League at-bat on Wednesday for Double-A Trenton, and that he will be fine with however Girardi chooses to split up at-bats in the DH role.

"I don't need rest now, I've been resting for three weeks," Rodriguez said. "But usually Joe makes the right call. Whatever he wants, I'm fine with. I'm just excited to be playing ball and get back and contribute."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.