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TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez played in a simulated game Thursday, the last step before the New York Yankees send him on a second minor league injury rehabilitation assignment.
The team announced Thursday that Rodriguez would join the Double-A Trenton Thunder on Friday to play in a rehab game. If he is not suspended and prevented from playing pending an appeal, A-Rod could rejoin the Yankees as early as Sunday in San Diego or in Chicago on Monday.
In a strange sequence of events, Rodriguez began to address reporters after his workout Thursday -- closed to the media -- only to abruptly leave the grounds without detailing what happened or what the next step in his rehab would be.
|Alex Rodriguez drove away from the Yankees' spring training complex in Tampa without addressing the media.|
The Yankees released a statement later Thursday afternoon stating that Rodriguez saw 31 pitches over six at-bats, and that Rodriguez "took part in some simulated defensive situations and ran bases in simulated situations."
Negotiations between Rodriguez and Major League Baseball are apparently stuck on Rodriguez's desire to make sure he can cash in on at least some of the remaining $100 million owed under his contract, and there's also a wide gap between the suspension he is willing to accept and the one MLB would like to issue, two sources familiar with the talks told T.J. Quinn of "Outside the Lines" on Thursday.
Because of wet grounds, the Yankees moved Rodriguez's simulated game from their minor league complex across the Dale Mabry highway to Steinbrenner Field, the team's spring training home.
The ballpark was closed to media, who watched from a walkway behind the right-field bullpen. Rodriguez had several at-bats, played third and ran bases during the simulated game. About two dozen media members and five television trucks were on hand -- but no fans.
Rodriguez was going to detail his day to a group of print reporters as he left the facility. He stopped his black Maybach and pointed to reporters on the left side of a driveway that led out of the minor league facility. The reporters scurried over to talk to Rodriguez. On the other side of the driveway, several cameras were positioned.
When TV crews saw that Rodriguez would talk, they left their positions and rushed over for the interview. Rodriguez said he only wanted to talk without cameras, and before anyone could organize for that to be accommodated, he drove away.
Coming back from January hip surgery, Rodriguez was .200 (8-for-40) with two homers and eight RBIs in 13 minor league games from July 2-20 for Class A Tampa and Charleston (S.C.), Double-A Trenton, and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The assignment was cut a day short when he complained of quadriceps tightness, and the Yankees said an MRI in New York on July 21 showed a grade 1 strain.
Rodriguez pushed to be activated later that week, retaining a doctor without giving the Yankees the required notification, and the physician claimed he couldn't detect an injury. During a conference call with Yankees officials on July 25 -- Rodriguez insisted one of his lawyers be on the call -- the sides agreed to a schedule for his return.
A-Rod has been assigned to Trenton for Friday night's game against Reading. While he would be in position to return to the major leagues shortly thereafter, it appears Major League Baseball will suspend the three-time MVP in coming days for ties to Biogenesis of America, a now-closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Four years ago Rodriguez admitted using PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03, but he repeatedly has denied using them since.ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand, ESPN's William Weinbaum and The Associated Press contributed to this report.