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A-Rod returns to starting lineup as DH

A-Rod returns to starting lineup as DH

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with a ninth-inning RBI double in his return to the lineup in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to the Phillies.

Rodriguez's swing felt lively enough for him to be back in the lineup as the designated hitter, but lingering concerns about his defensive mobility kept him from taking his glove to third base.

Rodriguez said he felt "good" after returning to the cleanup spot in New York's order for the first time since a strained right hip flexor forced him to leave a game at Baltimore last Thursday after just one inning.

"I took some good swings and never felt anything," Rodriguez said. "Today was a really good day."

Rodriguez had a little difficulty moving to his left while taking infield practice on Tuesday, and a day later, that was enough to make manager Joe Girardi rethink having Rodriguez in the field so soon.

"We watched him take ground balls yesterday and I just didn't think that he had the lateral movement that we wanted to see quite yet," Girardi said before the game. "He's going to do it again today and it could get better today. This way, we ease him into it. As far as third base, I don't have a date. Hopefully soon."

Rodriguez plans to intensify his infield workout with first-base coach Mick Kelleher before Thursday's game, but he didn't sound too confident about playing third in the rubber match with the Phillies.

"Take it one day at a time," he said when asked if he would need to DH again on Thursday, "but perhaps."

Rodriguez did look a bit sluggish legging out his ninth-inning double, and he didn't score on Robinson Cano's subsequent single. The baserunning had Girardi concerned about whether Rodriguez felt something or was just being cautious. Rodriguez said it was the latter.

"In a four-run game, I didn't think I needed to go all-out or getting a stand-up double was crucial," he said. "And on the ball [Cano] hit to right field, to turn third base like a wild man, I don't think it would have done anyone good."

Rodriguez has been receiving treatment on the area, which he described as the inside of his right groin, since the Yankees' June 4-6 series in Toronto. Rodriguez hit on the field at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday and showed enough to prove he was ready.

"He felt that he had the explosiveness hitting," Girardi said. "He just felt that he wasn't quite ready to make his lateral movement that it takes to play third base."

Rodriguez will also be able to stretch more and stay loose on the stationary bicycle because of the DH role, which may have saved him from a stint on the 15-day disabled list.

"If he wasn't ready to DH in the next couple of days, then we would have definitely talked about the DL," Girardi said. "Because he's ready to DH, we're ready to send him up."

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