Tight quad makes Alex Rodriguez the DH instead of third baseman

Alex Rodriguez flips his bat bat after striking

Alex Rodriguez flips his bat bat after striking out in a rehab game with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders against the Louisville Bats. (July 20, 2013) (Credit: AP)

MOOSIC, Pa. -- Alex Rodriguez joked after Friday's game that anyone watching on TV who saw him run the bases must have thought it was a slow-motion replay.

"That's how fast I'm moving right now," he said, alluding to his getting thrown out at second base while attempting to stretch a liner off the leftfield wall into a double. "Slow . . . That's my speed right now. Get used to it."

It seems as though an obvious truth was revealed in jest: That despite his name and the expectations that come with it, the 14-time All-Star understands and accepts that his abilities have greatly diminished and his body simply isn't what it once was.

A-Rod, who played third base on Thursday and was the designated hitter Friday, was to play third again Saturday night, and even completed fielding drills at about 4:30 p.m. But after complaining of tightness in his left quadriceps, he was moved to DH about an hour before Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's 2-1, 10-inning loss to Louisville before 7,245.

"It's a little sore so I decided to play DH . . . a little bit disappointing,'' said Rodriguez, who added that he might have hurt himself while sliding Friday. "The same quad bothered me a little bit last week and I recovered nicely . . . It's a matter of how I wake up in the morning.''

Rodriguez said he doesn't think this development will jeopardize Monday night's potential return to the Yankees. "I'll probably speak to Joe [Girardi] and figure out what the combination is,'' he said. "Play [Sunday], or maybe off Sunday and play Monday.''

Rodriguez, batting second, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He lined out to deep right-center before striking out in the third, fifth and eighth and now is 3-for-12 at the Triple-A level.

After going through rehab, Derek Jeter suffered a quadriceps strain in his first game back with the Yankees and was placed on the disabled list. Still, barring a major setback, Rodriguez will complete his 20-day rehab assignment Sunday and return to a Yankees lineup in desperate need of an offensive jolt.

Rodriguez is scheduled to join the team in Texas on Monday for a series against the Rangers that, for A-Rod, will be a 97-degree crucible. "I have no idea,'' he said of the reception he expects from fans of the team for which he hit 156 home runs from 2001-03, "but it shouldn't be boring."

The experience and power A-Rod provides likely will be an upgrade over his replacements' production. But what the Yankees also will get back is an athlete worn from age -- he turns 38 Saturday -- and taxed by a barrage of injuries.

Rodriguez had surgery in January to repair a torn labrum in his left hip, four years after an operation on his right hip, and has played in no more than 138 games in the last six seasons.

This hip surgery, he said, was more difficult to recover from than the first. "The process was a lot tougher, a lot more intense," he said. "There [were] dark moments, for sure; times where you're like, 'Am I gonna make it back?' ''

Rodriguez said that at one point, he feared his career would be derailed by the hip injuries, even referencing former NFL and MLB star Bo Jackson. But that wasn't the case and A-Rod produced in his first two Triple-A games, going 3-for-8 with an opposite-field homer.

"I expect him to be a very good player," Girardi said Friday. "As I've said, though, physically we're going to have to see where he's at playing every day."

On Thursday, A-Rod talked about his everyday routine and what goes into his preparation for each game, and the tedious recovery process afterward.

His routine before a night game, he said, begins in the morning and includes extensive strength, conditioning and agility work with trainers. It continues until well after the ballpark has emptied. "Cold tub, foam rolling, soft-tissue stuff," Rodriguez said. "A lot of stuff I didn't have to do 10, 15 years ago. It just takes a little longer."

Rodriguez also conceded that his defense is "probably gonna be several weeks behind" and called it a "work in progress.''

The last thing remaining on his own rehab checklist, he said, is ranging into the hole at third and making a diving stop.

But unless the Yankees deviate from the original plan to have him DH in Sunday's final tuneup, that box will go unchecked.

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