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Tuesday, July 9, 2013
A-Rod's slump, MLB probe continue

By Chris Girandola | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez is expected to face a suspension after the All-Star break.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez continued to struggle at the plate, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a groundout in Class A Tampa's contest against the Dunedin Blue Jays on Tuesday.

His bigger concern moving forward, though, might occur Friday, when sources expect the New York Yankees third baseman to meet with MLB officials about his involvement with Tony Bosch and the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic.

"Not that I know of, and if I knew, I couldn't share with you guys," Rodriguez said when asked whether he knew anything about the meeting with MLB. "We've been fully instructed to not comment on that case."

Rodriguez did offer something tantalizing about the MLB investigation, though.

"There's a lot of players involved, I know that," Rodriguez said.

Despite the possible suspension that could be issued sometime over the next two weeks, Rodriguez was fully focused on his work in Tampa, even though he looks far from being major league ready in time for the cut-off date established by Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

After grounding out to third in his first at-bat, he missed badly on breaking balls from Dunedin starter Jesse Hernandez for the third strike in his final two plate appearances at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"I just have to continue to be patient," said Rodriguez, who is now 1-for-12 with three strikeouts in five rehab contests. "I feel good. I just have to let the ball travel more, be more patient."

In his first at-bat, he swung at the first pitch from the Dunedin right-hander and chopped a grounder to third baseman Gustavo Pierre, who easily threw out Rodriguez at first.

In his second at-bat, he swung and missed badly at the first three pitches he saw from Hernandez -- three straight breaking balls.

In his final at-bat, he swung and missed at a breaking ball, looked at a fastball for a strike, and missed again on the third pitch.

While Rodriguez believes he will "definitely be ready" in 20 days, he admitted after the game that he is far from being 100 percent with his timing.

"Not now," Rodriguez said when asked whether his timing was where he wanted it. "Before the first game in Charleston, I thought I'd have a better idea of where I'd be with my timing. We're almost to that point so I will be able to assess it more then."

In the field, Rodriguez handled a hard ground ball hit to him by Marcus Knecht in the fourth inning. He crouched down and rose with ease to make a comfortable throw to first for the out. In addition, there were two balls hit by him that he seemed uninterested in going after.

"I feel healthy," Rodriguez said. "I feel good with my lateral movement. It's getting better."

After his last at-bat, in the seventh inning, Rodriguez went back to the cages to take about 45 minutes of batting practice, with Reggie Jackson and Yankees director of player development Pat Roessler offering advice.

"It's a perfect example of how it's great to be here [in Tampa]," Rodriguez said. "I got good work early in the back field, good work postgame with Reggie and [Roessler]. Those are things you can't do anywhere else but here."

Rodriguez said he would be the designated hitter for Tampa in Wednesday's contest and "play five, six innings at third" on Thursday.

Asked whether he would stay in Tampa for the entire rehab stint, Rodriguez said he most likely would stay for the homestand, which continues through Sunday, and then wait for the Yankees' brass to make the next move.

"Weather permitting, of course," Rodriguez joked.

Or in A-Rod's case, Major League Baseball.