CHARLESTON, S.C. - His performance wasn't exactly a thing of beauty, but Alex Rodriguez was just glad to be on the field again.
Playing third base and batting second for the Class A Charleston RiverDogs Tuesday night at Riley Park, Rodriguez began his 20-day rehab assignment by grounding into a double play and striking out in two plate appearances and throwing wide of first base on his first fielding attempt, although the play was ruled a hit.
It was Rodriguez's first game action in more than eight months following offseason hip surgery.
"It was just a great blessing for me to be back out there,'' said Rodriguez, who played three innings. "It has been a long fight, a hard climb.''
On the first pitch of the game, Kyle Wren of the Rome (Ga.) Braves dropped a bunt right at Rodriguez. He fielded the ball cleanly but threw wide of first base.
"That was a 'welcome back' thing,'' Rodriguez said. "It was a heck of a bunt. I actually thought I was going to have to dive on the first play.''
A-Rod had only one other fielding chance, but had no play on a bunt that rolled for a hit in the third inning.
He said it wasn't about timing.
"Timing is the least of my concerns,'' he said. "It's more about the overall body, getting the body in shape, getting your legs under you, conditioning. There's work to be done before and after to make sure your body is conditioned for the long haul.
"It's a slow progression. Three innings is not a heck of a lot. Two at-bats is not too much. It almost feels like March 1 for spring training, and that's basically the approach.''
A capacity-plus crowd of 8,255, 191 short of a franchise record, turned out to see Rodriguez play.
"Pretty impressive for A-ball,'' he said. "Nice crowd, and they seemed to be having a great time.''
At a meeting with the media earlier in the day, Rodriguez said he will play in Charleston again Wednesday night in another three-inning stint, then base decisions on subsequent play depending on the weather at other Yankees minor-league facilities.
He hopes to stick with the 20-day rehab schedule as he attempts to return to the Yankees, with whom he says he's on the same page.
"We have the same interests,'' Rodriguez said. "We have the same goal, which is to get me back to New York as soon as possible and hopefully, like in 2009, win a championship.''
The projected rehab schedule could have Rodriguez back with the Yankees in time for a four-game series at Texas that begins July 22.
He was asked what he hopes to prove when he returns to the big leagues.
"I have to be honest,'' he said. "I'm [almost] 38, not 28. I'm no longer a spring chicken. But I still feel like I can go out there and be productive.
"I think it's just the overall competition, the whole game. All around. It's been a long time since I've done anything.
"Let's be honest, the way the year ended last year was pretty bloody. We got swept. I got benched, and pinch hit for. And I have no one to blame but myself because I stunk up the house, that's for sure.''