Alex Rodriguez looks on during batting practice before ALCS Game...

Alex Rodriguez looks on during batting practice before ALCS Game 3 against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit. (Oct. 16, 2012) Credit: Getty

VIERA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez is making daily progress in his 20-day rehab assignment, but don't expect him to celebrate each milestone, such as the second-inning single to centerfield Saturday that marked his first hit of 2013.

"It felt amazing. Rocket! It was incredible, it was magical. I mean, who cares, really?" Rodriguez said after playing his third rehab game of the season and first with the Tampa Yankees. "I did see the ball better. Those are the things I do want to focus on, in all seriousness.''

Rodriguez is 1-for-5 in his rehab stint, which began with two games with the Charleston RiverDogs.

"It means nothing," said Rodriguez, who wore his No. 13 in Tampa's gray road uniform. "I was happy I did get some work at third base, was happy to score . . . from first. Tomorrow's another test. That's how it is . . . Everything's going to take time. Anything I tell you guys, there's really not much there. You've got to wait probably 10 games and then I'll be able to get into the flow of things. I'm literally trying to two-step back into this thing and be smart about it, too."

Rodriguez, who said he expects to play for Tampa again Sunday in Viera on Florida's east coast, tested his recovering left hip a little more directly than he might have expected.

He was scheduled to play five innings, so it wasn't a given that he'd get a third at-bat, but a two-out walk sent him to the plate in the fifth. That's when righthander Cody Scarpetta's third pitch, a curveball, hit him in the left hip, which was repaired during surgery in January.

Rodriguez said the pitch hit him in the "IT band," or iliotibial band, in his thigh. He walked it off and then scored from first on a three-base outfield error for a 3-1 lead.

Rodriguez, greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers against the Brevard County Manatees at Space Coast Stadium, grounded out to short in the first inning.

Defensively, he had three balls hit his way with no problems. His best play came when he left his feet and backhanded a line drive in the second inning. He fielded grounders from consecutive batters in the fifth.

"I'm sure my defense is going to be several weeks behind my offense," Rodriguez said. "I'm pretty confident that with some at-bats, I'll be able to feel pretty good and be pretty productive. Naturally, with any hip surgery, lateral movement is always going to be a challenge."

When he was done for the night, Rodriguez walked down the leftfield line and signed autographs for fans in the sixth inning, initially straddling the tarp to get within their reach.

"Fans have been great, unbelievable, everywhere I've been," he said. "It's been pretty awesome."

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