A-Rod slides, takes BP

TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez participated in a sliding drill for the first time and got 15 at-bats Tuesday during his initial simulated game since right hip surgery last month.

The New York Yankees third baseman, who might be back with the team ahead of his projected May 15 return, slid five times on a sliding mat, a key step in his rehab program. He also faced rehabbing pitchers Sergio Mitre (elbow) and Paul Patterson (shoulder) in the simulated game.

"A good day. It felt good," Rodriguez said. "Good to be out there."

He hit several hard liners to right field and several strong grounders up the middle.

Rodriguez could start playing in extended spring training games this week.

"I want to make sure he's ready to go," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Ready to play every day."

Girardi said he communicated with Rodriguez via text message on Tuesday.

The three-time AL MVP continued to increase his other workouts. Rodriguez took 28 swings in regular batting practice before the simulated game, 66 afterward, and started fielding popups off a pitching machine.

Rodriguez had hip surgery on March 9.

Also, Chien-Ming Wang threw 50 pitches off the mound and might pitch in an extended spring training game late this week.

On the 15-day disabled list with weakness in his hips, Wang has started working out in a pool. He is doing some of the same work that Rodriguez does as part of his off-field program.