Alex Rodriguez is slowly knocking the rust off, but he isn't quite ready to profess his body is where it needs to be.
"Not yet, not yet," the Yankees third baseman said Tuesday. "But I think my legs are coming under me. I see light at the end of the tunnel. My expectation is to come back, and come back at full strength and help this team win."
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Rodriguez made a notable leap Tuesday toward turning that into a reality. He fielded grounders, ran the bases and also took some early batting practice about four hours before the first pitch against the Blue Jays.
It marked the first time he participated in live batting practice on the field since fracturing his left hand July 25 in Seattle.
"So far, so good," Rodriguez said. "Another good hurdle today."
Manager Joe Girardi was encouraged by what he saw from Rodriguez, who still doesn't have a timetable on when he'll be back. The plan is for A-Rod to see how he feels Wednesday, and if he's good to go, he will basically repeat the same things he did Tuesday.
There's also a good chance Rodriguez will play in some rehab games before Girardi pencils him back into his lineup. General manager Brian Cashman, speaking on ESPN New York 98.7 FM Tuesday, said Rodriguez's rehab stint could happen as soon as this weekend.
"Our thought process is, let's get through these next couple of days -- today, tomorrow and see where he's at," Girardi said, "Our hope is it's not too far off."
With Mark Teixeira sidelined for at least a week with a calf sprain, the heart of the Yankees' order is a bit thin. Sure, they could certainly use his bat, but Rodriguez knows he has to be smart and can't return before he's truly ready.
"You just have to think big picture," Rodriguez said. "Again, when I come back, I want to come back full strength, and make sure that I'm a force in the middle of the lineup, and help this team win and hopefully give us a shot in the arm. You see what happened with some of the guys in the American League and it's important not to try to rush back."
Rodriguez was 13-for-39 with a pair of homers in his last 10 games before going down and had seemed to regain his stroke.
"That was the most frustrating part," he said, "because I think for the first time all year, I had a pretty good run for 10 days. I've been working hard on the same things that I had going on and hopefully I can pick up where I [left] off."