Alex Rodriguez returns to lineup

Updated: September 3, 2011, 6:09 PM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi took a deep breath when third baseman Alex Rodriguez dove to his left for a groundball during the second inning of Saturday's 6-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

But after making the play and throwing to first in what ended as an infield single, Rodriguez got up without any problems.

His left thumb wasn't giving him any trouble, and to Girardi that's all that mattered.

"I did," Girardi said when asked if he took a deep breath as Rodriguez stretched out and could've landed on his thumb. "I don't think you really know sometimes until tomorrow because the adrenaline kind of shuts down. But he made no mention of his thumb today to me or to anyone else that I know."

Sounds like a good sign for the Yankees.

Rodriguez, who had missed the previous six games with a sprained left thumb, went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in his return on Saturday afternoon.

"We got to see Alex run, too," Girardi said. "So that's a good sign, too."

Before the game Girardi talked the inherent risks of Rodriguez potentially re-aggravating his thumb going after a ground ball. Luckily, however, that didn't occur on Saturday.

"The injury should heal," Girardi said. "The problems that you run into is that you could have to go after a ground ball. And you could re-aggravate it a little bit. You'd like to be able to say you could control it, not aggravate it, but that's not the way the game works.

"If you're a catcher, it's really pretty hard not to aggravate it. He's got a better chance of it not happening but you know we're just going to have to manage it."

Girardi wasn't sure if Rodriguez could play until the 36-year-old went through a pregame workout. But Rodriguez made it through without any issues or setbacks so Girardi put him in the lineup.

"Thumbs up guys, thumbs up," Rodriguez told reporters before Saturday's game.

Rodriguez originally injured his thumb Aug. 21 as he backhanded a ground ball off Joe Mauer's bat in Minnesota. Before that, he had missed 38 games following surgery to repair an MCL tear in his right knee.

"I think you're going to feel something for the rest of the year," Rodriguez said Friday. "You've got to pretty much concede to that. That's just not gonna go away, but that's just going to have to be fine."

Rodriguez had a cortisone shot Monday after an MRI revealed a Grade 1 sprain. The cortisone shot has lessened the pain, according to Rodriguez, who will wear extra padding for his thumb to ease the pain associated with swinging a bat. Rodriguez said he feels the most pain when making contact.

"It's not something you have to worry about re-injuring or making it worse," Rodriguez said. "So it's just a matter of me having to play through the pain."

Rodriguez is batting .289 with 14 homers and 53 RBIs -- the lowest production of his 18-year career. He has not failed to hit at least 30 home runs and knock in 100 runs since 1997.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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