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In a bid to remove any doubt the New York Yankees want Alex Rodriguez back as quickly as possible, team president Randy Levine said Saturday the club is "desperate" for A-Rod's power to return to the lineup.
"We need Alex back," Levine told ESPNNewYork.com by phone. "How effective he'll be when he comes back, how good he'll be, we don't know. But we are desperate for his right-handed power, and he's better than any third baseman on this team right now."
Rodriguez told The Associated Press in Tampa he "can't wait to get back" and that his swing "is definitely getting back to form," words that apparently sounded like a symphony to Levine's ears.
"Alex is going to help us," the team president said. "Obviously, it's no secret that we're struggling against left-handed pitching, that our whole offense is struggling, and that we've had very, very serious injuries.
"We need right-handed power. We don't have any right-handed power, none right now. Any semblance of A-Rod would help us. Even last year's A-Rod would be a big upgrade over what we have right now."
Rodriguez hit .272 with 18 homers and 57 RBIs in 122 regular-season games last year before being benched by manager Joe Girardi in the postseason. The third baseman endured a second hip surgery over the winter, and is working out in Tampa in an attempt to return to the Yankees while MLB officials investigate his alleged role in the Biogenesis scandal.
With Rodriguez's replacement, Kevin Youkilis, injured, the Yankees have turned to rookie David Adams at third. The right-handed hitting Adams entered Saturday night hitting .186 with two homers and nine RBIs.
A-Rod tweeted Tuesday that he'd been cleared to play rehab games by his surgeon, Dr. Bryan Kelly, inspiring a profane response from general manager Brian Cashman, who told ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand that Rodriguez should "shut the f--- up." Cashman would say that Kelly wasn't authorized to make any such decision, and that team doctors hadn't granted medical clearance for the fallen star.
After initially declining to return messages from Cashman and Levine, Rodriguez finally called the GM Wednesday and took part in a three-way conversation that included the team president and lasted a half hour.
"That whole conversation was just about getting Alex back as quickly as we can," Levine said Saturday, "whether that's next week, two weeks from now, next month, whatever. Everyone acted very professionally on that call.
"As Cash said, we need Alex back as long as he's healthy. We don't want a situation like the [Mark Teixeira] situation where Tex came back from the DL and then ended up out for the season."