MOOSIC, Pa. -- On Alex Rodriguez's first swing of the night, he ripped a line drive into the rightfield corner. It one-hopped the wall and bounced into rightfield, looking like a sure double.
But Rodriguez didn't exactly sprint out of the batter's box thinking double. Instead the rehabbing third baseman looked tentative as he slowly made his way to first base and accepted his single.
For a player less than five weeks removed from knee surgery, the hesitancy he showed running certainly seemed worthy of concern.
"I was a little tentative, a little hesitant," Rodriguez said after going 1-for-3 in his first rehab game with Triple-A Scranton. "I think that's something that comes with time, a little bit more repetition. I experienced the same thing with my hip in '09. Those last few hurdles are more mental than they are physical."
The biggest thing to come from this game, Rodriguez said, was that he felt no issues with his knee. He underwent surgery July 11 to repair a meniscus tear, an injury that may have been sapping him of some of his power. His .485 slugging percentage is his lowest since he became an everyday player in 1996.
"You go down for a few weeks and the rest of the body gets a little slow, a little tentative," the 36-year-old Rodriguez said. "I think overall the knee feels good but I'm just waiting for my body to respond."
Coming off two games with Class-A Tampa as the designated hitter, Rodriguez ramped up his rehab Tuesday night by playing third base for six innings. But that proved to be a bit of a challenge.
Pop-ups have never been Rodriguez's strong suit, and he missed two of them in foul territory, even overrunning one that would have ended the fifth inning with the bases loaded. Scranton's pitcher, Adam Warren, wound up striking out Dan Johnson, allowing Rodriguez to laugh off his mistakes.
"I just botched them both," Rodriguez said. "That's one thing that you can't [simulate] when you're down in Tampa rehabbing. And it's always good to give the fans a little entertainment."
In addition to hitting a deep single in the first, Rodriguez flew out to deep centerfield in the third inning and popped out to shortstop in the sixth. It was his first game in Triple-A since 1996.
Afterward he wore an ice pack on his knee when he met with reporters, saying he's been icing it twice a day in addition to riding an exercise bike and building up the muscles around his knee. He laughed when asked if he's close to 100 percent.
"When would I be 100 percent? Probably sometime around New Year's," he said. "But it's not about being 100 percent. You want to go out, you want to be healthy and you want to eliminate some of the hesitancy I've had the last few days."
The Yankees plan to have Rodriguez play third base for Scranton Wednesday night then perhaps activating him as early as Thursday. "Hopefully I can come in and give them a shot in the arm," Rodriguez said, "and we take it to the house the rest of the year."