Despite all the distractions that Alex Rodriguez has created for the Yankees, and the dismal playoff showings, the third baseman is beginning to look like an increasingly attractive option. Heading into Monday, the Yankees are third in the AL East, 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. Although aging veterans like Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay performed well for the team at the beginning of the season, each has struggled in recent weeks.
Now, Rodriguez’s return to New York could finally be on the horizon.
Rodriguez has been cleared by doctors to begin a minor league rehab assignment as soon as July 1, according to the New York Daily News. Rodriguez is expected to begin getting at-bats with the Single-A Tampa Yankees, but a hard date has not been set.
“It sounds like it’s on schedule,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the Daily News. “He’s been running, throwing, fielding, and I know it’s approaching. It’s coming.”
During spring training, hitters typically need about 20 games, or 50-75 at-bats to get ready for the season. Rodriguez will likely do the same at various rungs in the minors, which would put a return to New York some time not long after the All-Star break, if there are no setbacks.
However, as Rodriguez prepares to return to the field, the Biogenesis scandal that he’s right in the middle of refuses to go away. For the Yankees’ part, the team is waiting to see how MLB’s investigation plays out before making any long-term decisions on Rodriguez.
“All we can do is rehab the player,” Cashman said. “We 110 percent support the commissioner’s efforts. Their efforts are our efforts. Anyone guilty of cheating the game needs to go down, whether they’re a Yankee or not a Yankee. It’ll get resolved one way or the other. We’re waiting. All we can do is play the players we have.”