Two firsts for Alex Rodriguez: Taking grounders and swings

Alex Rodriguez warms up during batting practice before Alex Rodriguez warms up during batting practice before Game 4 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. (Oct. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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BALTIMORE - There have been no leaps forward for Alex Rodriguez in his rehab . . . but there have been no setbacks, either.

And for the 37-year-old third baseman -- who has spent time on the DL each of the last six seasons and is rehabbing from left hip surgery -- that's something.

Rodriguez, starting his third week of on-field work in Tampa, took grounders for the first time Monday and took 25 swings in the complex's indoor cages, also a first. A-Rod, who the Yankees have said could return sometime after the All-Star break, had been relegated to tee-and-toss and running to that point.

"Taking ground balls and playing in a game . . . it's ground balls right at you,'' Joe Girardi said, somewhat downplaying Monday's progress in terms of starting some kind of clock for when Rodriguez might come back. "There's a lot that has to happen. There's a lot of hurdles. He's going to have to go through basically a full spring training. I don't want to put a date on it.''

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More from Tampa

Ivan Nova (right triceps inflammation) threw 32/3 innings and 60 pitches in an extended spring training game in Dunedin, Fla.

"He could be available after this,'' Cashman said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow.''

Cashman did not sound as optimistic about Eduardo Nunez (left oblique strain).

"He's still stiff and stuff like that,'' Cashman said. "He's 10 days away for us to think about New York.''

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Kevin Youkilis (back) participated in a simulated game but was limited to tracking pitches at the plate, holding the bat and not swinging. Girardi said he could return sometime next week.

Joba Chamberlain (oblique) threw in the bullpen and is expected to throw in his second rehab outing later this week.

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Pineda progression

Michael Pineda (shoulder) had his "best outing yet'' in extended spring training Saturday, Cashman said. The righthander, whom the Yankees hope to have back by late June, threw about 50 pitches.

"He was really good,'' Cashman said. "They want to get him up to 75 pitches . . . [but] up to this point, this is the best he's thrown in terms of command and everything else.''

With Laura Albanese

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