Alex Rodriguez hopes for return

Updated: August 3, 2013, 12:06 PM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

TRENTON, N.J. -- Embattled New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez says that he and the Yankees have agreed on a "tentative" plan for him to return to the team on Monday.

Rodriguez went 1-for-2 with a home run with Double-A Trenton during a rehab game on Friday night against the Reading Fightin Phils. He plans to play Saturday for Trenton and then go through a light workout on Sunday before rejoining the Yankees in Chicago for Monday's game against the White Sox.

"I think it's possible," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in San Diego, where the team is playing the Padres.

Rodriguez is counting on it.

"Unless I get hit by lightning, and these days you never know," he said.

Rodriguez has missed the entire season to this point following hip surgery and a Grade 1 quad strain, but looming over the potential return is his entanglement in the Biogenesis saga.

The commissioner's office is still deciding what punishment to mete out to Rodriguez for his role in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. While there was hope that a decision about any suspension or banishment would be made by Friday, the new goal is now Monday, a source told T.J. Quinn of ESPN's "Outside The Lines."

Eight other players are reportedly facing suspensions as well. Most of the other eight are expected to accept 50-game suspensions without appealing. Rodriguez's representatives repeatedly have said he will fight any suspension.

Rodriguez may be accused of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, attempting to obstruct MLB's investigation, and not being truthful with MLB in the past.

Baseball has been attempting to gain a suspension through at least 2014 and has threatened a possible lifetime ban. Negotiations over Rodriguez's penalty are likely to go through the weekend, with the 38-year-old resisting such a lengthy stretch on the sidelines.

I will say this: There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping back on the field. That's not my teammates and that's not the Yankee fans.

-- Alex Rodriguez

Rodriguez seems to think the Yankees are trying to keep him off the field. While he remains on the disabled list, New York is reimbursed for his salary by insurance.

Rodriguez, who admitted to taking steroids from 2001-2003 with the Texas Rangers, said he supported baseball's efforts to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs. But he seemed to question the Yankees' alleged attempts to keep him from returning to the team.

"I think that's the pink elephant in the room," Rodriguez said. "I think we all agree that we want to get rid of PEDs. That's a must. I think all the players feel that way. But when all the stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract, I think that's concerning for me. It's concerning for present [players] and it should be concerning for future players as well. There is a process. I'm excited about the way I feel tonight and I'm going to keep fighting."

Rodriguez declined to answer a question about being forced to retire.

"It's not time for me to hang it up. We have a process and the process is not here yet," Rodriguez said.

The three-time MVP added that he is "mentally prepared" to play five more years. Including the remainder of the 2013 season, he has five seasons remaining on the 10-year, $275 million contract he signed in the 2007 offseason.

If Rodriguez's suspension is handed down before Monday, he could opt to fight it through the players' union.

"My job is to do everything I can physically and mentally to help my team win," he said. "As far as all the legal stuff, to me it's been confusing. The one thing I've gotten from so many people, so many fans, some teammates, they're like, 'What is going on?'"

"I think there's a lot of people that are confused, a lot of people that don't understand the process.

"I will say this: There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping back on the field. That's not my teammates and that's not the Yankee fans."

When asked who those parties were, Rodriguez said, "I can't tell you that right now and I hope I never have to."

Rodriguez was likely referencing the idea that the Yankees and MLB are trying to keep him off of the field or will not have to pay the remainder of his contract -- approximately $100 million -- if he is banned from baseball for life.

MLB may try to suspend Rodriguez under its collective bargaining agreement instead of its drug rules, sources have told ESPN and other media outlets. If MLB goes ahead with the suspension under the labor deal instead of the solely the Joint Drug Agreement, Rodriguez would likely lose any chance of playing during an appeal.

Information from ESPNNewYork's Andrew Marchand, T.J. Quinn of 'Outside The Lines' and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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