Alex Rodriguez appears to be ahead of Derek Jeter

Alex Rodriguez laughs at batting practice as he

Alex Rodriguez laughs at batting practice as he waits to get into the cage during a workout at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla. (Credit: AP, 2004)

TAMPA, Fla. -- One after the other, side by side, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez went through their rehab workouts Friday at the Yankees' minor-league complex, trying to find their way back from injuries.

And as the two stars alternated at the plate and in the field during two hours of outdoor drills, this much was clear: Rodriguez was doing things that Jeter, now joining him in live at-bats, hasn't yet been cleared to do.

When the two took batting practice and then simulated at-bats against a minor-league righthander, Rodriguez, recovering from hip surgery, was able to run out of the box with each hit, something Jeter did not do. And after fielding ground balls, Rodriguez was able to test himself by running from home to second, then second to home, which Jeter did not do.

Joe Girardi said both players' workloads suggest they're getting closer to getting into [rehab] games,'' but he wouldn't handicap that race.

"I'm not sure who you'll see in a game first,'' Girardi said before Friday night's game against the Orioles in Baltimore. "Alex has obviously had more simulated at-bats than Derek, but we'll see how that goes.''

Rodriguez hit the ball well, getting two singles and a double in five at-bats. He even tested himself with four slides onto a large mat in the outfield. A-Rod was said to have looked better running than he had, but still not close to moving well enough to be considered major league-ready.

The Yankees have not publicly given a specific timetable on Rodriguez's possible return to the majors this season beyond saying they expect him back "sometime after the All-Star break.'' They have not even said when he will begin what could be weeks of rehab games, perhaps starting in Tampa in the Florida State League.

A source familiar with Rodriguez's three-way conference call Wednesday with general manager Brian Cashman and team president Randy Levine said Rodriguez told the Yankees he was "unsure'' when he will be ready to play -- if at all -- this season. But another source disputed that.

"The story out there is that Alex is not ready to play, that sources are saying that Alex may never be ready to play and that he said this on the phone is completely false,'' the source said Friday.

Rodriguez again left the complex without speaking to reporters, giving a large group of fans waiting for autographs a quick wave as he drove away.

Jeter, recovering from a broken ankle, spoke briefly, continuing his optimism. "Everything's good,'' he said, adding that he ran indoors after his on-field workouts.

Jeter got one single in his six at-bats. Asked how it felt to take live pitching and not just batting practice, Jeter said he had taken that step forward Thursday. "I do things you guys don't know about,'' he said from his car as he left the complex.

Francisco Cervelli worked with the two infielders, spending extra time fielding bunts without throwing to first base. As Jeter and Rodriguez went through their simulated at-bats, Cervelli caught the pitches and ran to back up first base with each hit.

Curtis Granderson continues to work in limited action, throwing in the outfield without catching and running with a weight sled in the outfield.

With Steven Marcus

and Erik Boland

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