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Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Alex Rodriguez goes 1-for-3 in rehab

By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

MOOSIC, Pa. -- New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez answered questions much like he ran the bases on Tuesday night: Tentatively.

Appearing in just his third rehab game as he continues to recover from a torn meniscus in his right knee, Rodriguez went 1-for-3 at the plate for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre while making one play in the field during a six-inning stint at third base against Triple-A Durham in front of a near sellout crowd of 9,328 at PNC Field.

"I was a little tentative. A little hesitant," said Rodriguez, who will also play for Triple-A Scranton on Wednesday night. "That's something that comes with time and repetition. This was only my third game out there. I had the same experience coming off my hip injury in 2009, and those last few hurdles are more mental than physical."

Rodriguez is slated to rejoin the Yankees on Thursday night in Minnesota, but said he's going to continue to take it "one day at a time."

"Today was a good day, and hopefully we'll have another one tomorrow and then we'll see what happens and make a team decision after that," Rodriguez said.

The 36-year-old has missed the Yankees' last 34 games counting Tuesday. He underwent surgery to repair the torn meniscus on July 11, and has been out since July 8. In 80 games for the Yankees this season, Rodriguez is hitting .295 with 13 home runs, 19 doubles and 52 RBIs.

"It was exciting to be back out there," said Rodriguez, who went 2-for-6 with a home run and a double in two games for Class A Tampa over the weekend before going 4-for-13 with two doubles in simulated at-bats on Sunday in Florida. "It was nice to be under the lights and get a few swings under my belt."

Rodriguez lined a single to right field in the first inning, was robbed of an extra-base hit after ripping a deep fly ball to left center in the third and popped out to second in his third and final at-bat in the sixth.

Hitting may not have been an adventure for Rodriguez. But chasing foul pops down the third base line certainly was.

Rodriguez botched a pair of foul popups, failing to catch up to one in the fourth, and then overrunning one in the fifth. Both gaffes drew boos from the majority of those in attendance.

"I hope that tomorrow I can even ramp it up a little bit more and clear some of the hesitation that I had today," Rodriguez said. "And hopefully I can catch one of those popups tomorrow. I just botched both of them.

"It's always good to give the fans a little entertainment value. ... Those are things that you can't emulate (in practice). We'll get it right at some point."

Rodriguez expects to get a similar amount of playing time to what he did on Tuesday night on Wednesday night.

After singling in the first, Rodriguez looked tentative as he jogged around first base. He jogged to second after catcher Jesus Montero singled, but was stranded there.

"There's no soreness," said Rodriguez, who was sporting a massive ice wrap on his right knee during his postgame press conference with the media. "It's more of a mental hurdle. It's my third game, so it's hard to come out blazing and running 4.1s and 4.2s to first base. I have to be very patient with the speed and explosive part of my game. I just hope to keep making progress each and everyday."

Rodriguez said he expects it to be about a 10-day process before he can fully overcome his tentativeness and hesitancy.

Asked by a reporter if he feels "100 percent" Rodriguez responded: "One-hundred percent? I'm about 15 years of not being 100 percent. When would I be 100 percent? Probably sometime during New Year's.

"But it's not about being 100 percent. You want to be healthy and eliminate some of the hesitancy. I hope to clear those hurdles over the next 10 days."

Regarding his daily treatments, Rodriguez said: "I usually ice twice a day. I (ride the bike) and then do a lot of surround muscle rehab: the quad (quadriceps), the hammy and the calf."

At this point, Rodriguez said his knee is "feeling good," but he's waiting for the rest of his body to respond.

On a typical gameday, Triple-A Scranton usually draws about 3,000 fans. But Tuesday night was anything but typical.

PNC Field was nearly filled to capacity. The park can hold as many as 10,310 fans.

A pair of mounted police officers stationed on horses kept watch from their perch in center field for the first three innings.

The press box was also more full than usual, with several media members from a myriad of New York-based outlets making the approximately two-hour trek to Pennsylvania.

During his postgame press conference, hundreds of fans peeked through the windows of the room, cheering as they got a glimpse of Rodriguez. Afterward, he even signed a few autographs for fans who gave him memorabilia through cracks in the fence separating the restricted area outside the park.

Rodriguez, who will not return to New York City on Tuesday night, threw his batting gloves into the stands after popping out in his final at-bat.

Left-hander Manny Banuelos normally wears No. 13, but had to change to No. 58 for Rodriguez.

Brandon Laird normally plays third, but on Tuesday night, he shifted across the diamond to first base.

"I'm willing to do it for him," Laird said.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.