New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez returned to game action Tuesday night for the first time since he was sidelined in the playoffs last October. A-Rod began his extended rehab assignment with the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs on Tuesday, going hitless in two at-bats while getting the start at the hot corner, reports Derek Diesner of MLB.com.
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Wearing his customary No. 13 jersey, Rodriguez grounded into a 5-4-3 double play in his first at-bat, then struck out looking his next time up before being removed from the game. It wasn't the best of beginnings for A-Rod -- he also failed to make a play on a slow-rolling bunt down the line -- but the veteran slugger exclaimed that he was still "really excited" to get back on the field and that he "had a blast."
A-Rod, now closing in on 38, underwent an operation to repair a torn labrum and bone impingement in his left hip in January. The three-time MVP had a similar surgery on his right hip in 2009, but has never missed this much time due to an injury.
The Yankees have labored to get any kind of production out of their third basemen in Rodriguez's absence. Former Red Sox Kevin Youkilis was supposed to fill the void left by A-Rod, but he has spent much of the season on the disabled list. As a result the club has had to rely on guys like Jayson Nix, David Adams, and Chris Nelson at the hot corner. Collectively, New York's third basemen are batting .230/.291/.316 with four long balls on the year -- their .607 OPS the lowest mark in the American League at the position.
A-Rod is no longer the MVP player he once was, but if he can come close to duplicating his 2012 numbers -- .272/.353/.430 with 18 home runs -- it would still be a huge upgrade for the Bombers.
Next on the agenda for Rodriguez is another start with Charleston Wednesday evening, then an off day Thursday before joining the Yankees' Double-A affiliate in Tampa for their weekend set. With the way things are going at the moment, it seems that A-Rod could rejoin the Yankees right after the All-Star Break, but that could change if something were to happen with the Biogenesis PED scandal, in which Rodriguez is heavily implicated.