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A-Rod to return Monday? 'Yeah, of course'

7/19/2013

MOOSIC, Pa. -- If Alex Rodriguez has his way, he'll be back with the Yankees on Monday.

The Bombers' embattled slugger expects to return to the Yankees on Monday in Texas if he makes it through his next four rehab games without incident.

"Yeah, of course," Rodriguez said before going 1-for-4 with a homer in Thursday's rehab game with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Rodriguez, 37, has been rehabbing his surgically repaired hip since January. He began playing in games on July 2. Sunday is the final day of his 20-day stint.

At that point, the Yankees have to decide whether they want to recall Rodriguez to the majors or keep him on the disabled list.

If the Yankees were to decide that Rodriguez wasn't ready to return, he would remain on the disabled list, work out for a period and then go on another assignment.

But Rodriguez is optimistic he'll be called up on Monday.

"I think we have one big obstacle, and that's this weekend that includes four games. After that's over, we'll huddle up with our medical staff, the front office, Joe [Girardi], our manager and we'll come up with the best decision and what's the schedule," Rodriguez said. "And that will come from them."

General manager Brian Cashman, who publicly reprimanded Rodriguez for posting news about his rehab via Twitter, said that he hopes Rodriguez can rejoin the Yankees on Monday as well. Team president Randy Levine also told USA Today on Thursday that he expects Rodriguez to return on Monday.

"We need Alex Rodriguez," Levine told the newspaper. "We need a right-handed bat."

Looming over Rodriguez's rehab, however, are his alleged ties to the Biogenesis scandal.

Rodriguez is expected to be suspended whenever the penalties come down. There is no set date when they will be announced, though they are expected at some point in the second half of the season.

That said, players' association executive director Michael Weiner said the appeal process might take long enough that suspensions would not take place until 2014.

Rodriguez has repeatedly declined to comment on his involvement. He was asked on Thursday if he had any meetings scheduled with MLB officials or the players' association.

“I can’t comment on any of that stuff. I’ve said that over and over,” Rodriguez said.

As far as his on-field performance, Rodriguez said he still feels occasional pain in his surgically repaired hip.

Eleven games into his rehab stint, the 29-year veteran is just 6-for-32 with two home runs and seven strikeouts. Those two home runs have come in his last three games though, including an opposite-field, two-run homer on Thursday for Triple-A Scranton.

"Anytime I can get the ball up in the air, especially center and right-center, that's a good sign," Rodriguez said.

Six hits in 32 at-bats isn't pretty, but Rodriguez says he's felt more comfortable at the plate in recent at-bats.

"I’m par for the course, for sure. I think over the last three or four days, I’ve seen some things that I’ve wanted to see," said Rodriguez, who hit his second homer in four days Thursday. "I’ve felt my balance at the plate has improved quite a bit. But, you know, still a long ways to go."

He acknowledged that there have been "dark moments" during his rehab when he questioned whether he could ever make it all the way back. Now that Rodriguez is just four days from a chance to go back to the bigs, though, he's allowed himself to see the finish line.

"It's exciting. It's been a long haul, no question about it. It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of good people that have been getting me to this point," he said. "You definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel."