Alex Rodriguez closer to rehab

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez is just days away from playing in minor league rehab games and, barring any setbacks, the third baseman should return to the Yankees sometime next week, according to New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

"He's close," Girardi said on Tuesday. "He's been running. He ran the bases today, did (batting practice). He's getting pretty close to probably going in a game. There's been talk of it. It might be on Friday, it might be on Saturday. We'll just see where he's at."

The Yankees hope the All-Star slugger could rejoin them for a series at Kansas City.

Rodriguez has been out since July 7 with what originally was a lingering knee injury and later was revealed to be a meniscus tear.

After seeking a second opinion on the ailment, Rodriguez chose to have surgery. He underwent the procedure on July 11 in Miami. He was originally expected to be out four to six weeks. If he returns next week, he will have missed about five weeks.

The Yankees have gone 18-10 in Rodriguez's absence. He is batting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs in 80 games.

Rodriguez ran the bases and took batting practice again on Tuesday. He has been taking batting practice in Tampa for the past few days.

"It's all good stuff," Rodriguez said.

Girardi didn't want to speculate about how many minor league rehab games Rodriguez would need before he returns to the Yankees.

He also hesitated say a potential Monday return for A-Rod was 'realistic.'

"Part of that probably depends on where he starts and how he feels in those first couple of games," Girardi said. "But I think next week is realistic."

Also, left-hander Pedro Feliciano, who hasn't pitched this season because of a tear in his left shoulder, threw 42 pitches off a mound in a cage and is scheduled for batting practice on Friday.

Backup infielder Ramiro Pena, who had an appendectomy on July 18, has resumed swinging a bat.

Reliever Damaso Marte, coming back from left shoulder surgery, had a 32-pitch mound session. Converter reliever Mark Prior, out because of a groin strain and back soreness, pitched in a rookie-level Gulf Coast League game.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.