Notes: A-Rod in starting lineup vs. Twins

Notes: A-Rod in lineup vs. Twins

NEW YORK -- Less than 24 hours after hobbling out of Yankee Stadium with a strained left hamstring, Alex Rodriguez was back on the field, running early-afternoon pass patterns with bullpen catcher Mike Borzello.

Pronouncing his injury ready for game action, Rodriguez didn't skip a beat as he returned to the Yankees' lineup on Tuesday, batting in his familiar No. 4 slot and playing third base.

Yankees manager Joe Torre said he was convinced of Rodriguez's availability after watching the 11-time All-Star go through his regular pregame routine.

"He did everything," Torre said. "He was just testing himself, for our sake. When he came in and looked at me in the weight room, he said he was ready to go. I said, 'All right, you can DH,' and he said, 'No, I mean third base.'"

Perhaps Rodriguez's most strenuous test came at about 3:30 p.m. ET across the right-field expanse, as Borzello threw long tosses to Rodriguez from the right-field foul line.

The 31-year-old jogged in stride, smoothly making his way across the outfield grass like a wide receiver catching a pass. Rodriguez would then walk back to the foul line and run the route again.

Rodriguez declined to speak to reporters before Tuesday's game. Torre said Rodriguez did not have an MRI performed earlier in the day.

Leading the Major Leagues with 28 home runs and 80 RBIs, Rodriguez has a .322 batting average and paced all vote-getters for the July 10 All-Star Game at San Francisco's AT&T Park, appearing on 3,890,515 ballots.

Rodriguez suffered the injury in the sixth inning of New York's 5-1 victory over the Twins on Tuesday, when he collided with first baseman Justin Morneau while legging out a fielder's choice. He briefly remained in the game before telling third-base coach Larry Bowa that he would not attempt to score from second base on a ball hit to the outfield, prompting the Yankees to insert Miguel Cairo as a pinch-runner.

Torre said the Yankees plan to use Rodriguez as a designated hitter for Wednesday's matinee against the Twins, and that Rodriguez's availability is a strong indication that he may be able to avoid a stint on disabled list -- Rodriguez has not been shelved since July 2000, when he was playing for the Seattle Mariners.

"We certainly wouldn't be taking any risks at this point in time," Torre said. "I told him, one game or two games aren't as important as losing 30 games could be, if this thing led to something else. We're certainly not looking to play him, other than the fact that we're convinced he's fine."

Finally, results: With the Yankees' lineup responding after Derek Jeter was shuffled to the No. 3 spot on Monday, putting up four runs and batting around in a sixth inning that helped boost New York to a 5-1 victory, Torre elected to keep the same order intact on Tuesday.

"I think [Jeter is] pretty much oblivious to where he hits," Torre said. "He plays the same no matter what position he bats in."

As productive as Jeter has proved to be one slot lower than his regular No. 2 hole -- Jeter entered play Tuesday batting 11-for-24 as the Yankees' No. 3 hitter -- Torre said the real bonus was getting Melky Cabrera higher in the order.

The 22-year-old Cabrera drew raves for his plate demeanor during a sixth-inning at-bat, working back from a 1-2 count to look at three balls around a foul, bringing home Andy Phillips with a bases-loaded walk.

Raising his hand: Torre said reliever Kyle Farnsworth, who was unavailable Sunday due to a stiff back, volunteered to pitch for one or two outs before Monday's game.

The Yankees didn't take Farnsworth up on the offer, working Roger Clemens for eight innings in a vintage one-run, two-hit performance, but Torre said Farnsworth would be available for a full inning on Tuesday against the Twins.

Streak breaker: Bobby Abreu's solo home run off Minnesota's Boof Bonser in the sixth inning on Monday snapped the Yankees' stretch of 36 innings without a home run, a span of 138 at-bats. Prior to Abreu's upper-deck blast to right field, the Yankees' last home run came on June 28, when Andy Phillips homered in the third inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Draft signings: The Yankees have come to terms with two additional selections from the June First-Year Player Draft: 11th-round selection Isaiah Howes, a left fielder from Louisville, and 19th-round selection Taylor Holliday, an outfielder from UC Irvine.

Bomber bits: Torre said Hideki Matsui recently relayed in a conversation that he believes he has been trying to pull the ball too much. Matsui is just 1-for-15 on this homestand. ... Triple-A first baseman Shelly Duncan will participate in the 2007 International League Home Run Derby on July 9 in Albuquerque, N.M. Duncan, 27, has 21 home runs for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and has warranted consideration for a Major League callup in the Yankees' internal meetings.

Coming up: The Yankees celebrate Independence Day by sending right-hander Mike Mussina (4-5, 4.63) to the mound against the Twins, looking to run his home wins string to three consecutive games.

Minnesota counters with last year's American League Cy Young Award winner, left-hander Johan Santana (9-6, 2.83). First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET on the YES Network.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.