That was the plan … his and the Yankees as recently as Sunday, when manager Joe Girardi said so again before and after a win in Oakland.
Come Monday, an off day for the Yankees, Girardi changed his mind and decided Rodriguez is better off getting at least two games of minor-league at-bats after being sidelined since May 4 with a right hamstring strain.
And so, A-Rod headed for New Jersey’s capital city on Tuesday to play a Class AA Eastern League game for the Trenton Thunder instead of suiting up for the Yankees for their series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
“Princeton’s right down the street, so I feel a little smarter, and that’s hard to do for me,” A-Rod said with a smile. “I love spending time with the kids. Any time I get a chance to play baseball I’m excited. The fact that I’m back in a uniform, even though it’s not the Yankee pinstripes and it’s our affiliate, I’m excited.”
A-Rod may be stretching the truth there because he clearly wanted to avoid a rehab assignment, which will continue Wednesday night in Trenton and probably end then because the Thunder play a 10:30 a.m. game that day. It’s very unlikely the Yankees will force A-Rod to play so early in the morning, especially after he presumably gets eight or so at-bats the previous two nights.
“I have no idea (how long it’ll last),” said A-Rod, is batting third and DHing on Tuesday. “I’m an employee.”
Girardi told A-Rod that he wanted him to rehab on Monday.
“I’m not going to tell you exactly the details, but it was very positive conversation,” A-Rod said. “Look, I have tons of respect and trust for Joe, so when he makes a request, I put a lot of value into that. He thought it would be a good idea for me to get some at-bats, and that’s great.”
Clearly, A-Rod would have rather been in the Bronx taking more meaningful at-bats. Asked if he’s now hoping to return to the Yankees for Thursday’s game against Toronto, A-Rod answered, “”I’m hoping to be in the lineup every day. That’s what I do. I love to play.”
A-Rod says his plan in Trenton is to test his hamstring, which he says feels good. He’s also “looking to track the baseball, get some good at-bats in and build some momentum … kind of build on exactly what I had going on when I got hurt.”
A-Rod was swinging well before he left a Yankees game in Baltimore on May 3. He’s hit just .194 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 20 games for the Yankees, but he was batting .368 with three homers and seven RBIs in his last seven games.
“That was unfortunate timing for me,” he said. “I was swinging the bat pretty well when I got hurt and hopefully I’ll continue that.”