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Alex Rodriguez says he's cleared for baseball activities; Brian Cashman downplays early return

Yankees' Alex Rodriguez sits in the dugout in

Yankees' Alex Rodriguez sits in the dugout in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. (April 17, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Alex Rodriguez made the announcement on his Facebook page.

"Just met with my surgeon Dr. [Bryan] Kelly in South Florida and got cleared to move to baseball activities in Tampa,'' A-Rod wrote Thursday. "Really excited to be getting closer to being back on the field.''

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman sounded far less enthused as he described what that could mean, in terms of a time frame, for A-Rod's return to the field.

"I have no idea,'' Cashman said. "I'll stick to sometime after the All-Star break.''

Rodriguez had surgery on his left hip Jan. 16, and since then, the Yankees' publicly announced timetable for his return has been after the All-Star break.

But from the time news of the surgery broke at the winter meetings in December, the organization privately has operated under the assumption that A-Rod would be a long shot at best to play at all this season.

For that reason, the Yankees pursued an everyday third baseman in the free-agent market. That resulted in the signing of Kevin Youkilis, who landed on the disabled list earlier this week with a back injury.

When asked if hitting the field for baseball activities means an accelerated schedule for A-Rod's return, Cashman said, "It's never come up. Every conversation [with doctors] is he's exactly where he needs to be. Never hear anything that he's ahead of schedule. Him and [Derek] Jeter both, you're looking at sometime after the All-Star break.''

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