"It's always a little bit different when the intensity has to be turned up and you have to make a break and everything's not calculated," Girardi said.
Rodriguez will leave the Yankees on Thursday for Tampa along with catcher Jorge Posada and pitcher Phil Hughes, both of whom are also on the disabled list.
The Yankees originally said that Rodriguez would play in two extended Spring Training games at the team's Minor League complex beginning on Monday, but that will be pushed back to later in the week, assuming an examination shows that Rodriguez has healed enough to take the next steps.
Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 30 with a Grade 2 strain of his right quadriceps, an injury he originally sustained running out a ground ball on April 20 at Baltimore and aggravated when he returned to the lineup after missing three games. Since then, he said, he has been receiving treatment with heat, ice and whirlpool baths.
"I'm bored to death," Rodriguez said. "I haven't watched games in a long time, and I'm going nuts. It's so tough to watch and not be able to get an at-bat or help out your teammates."
The defending American League MVP resumed light baseball activities on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. He ran at an estimated 75 percent in the outfield with strength and conditioning coach Dana Cavalea, jogging from the foul line to right-center field.
He then played a hard game of catch with Robinson Cano, flipping the ball into the seats before taking ground balls at third base from bench coach Rob Thomson. Rodriguez completed his workout by spraying a few line drives around the field in batting practice.
"It feels good to be back out here," he said. "I've got to be smart and not try to overdo it. I've got seven days, so I've just got to make sure I budget my time and come in with some momentum at the end."
Once Rodriguez plays in the extended spring games, to be played on the Minor League fields at the Himes Avenue complex, he would likely bat third in every inning so that he can log six or seven at-bats per game.
"Hitters like that," Girardi said. "They like to get as many at-bats as possible. That's what we talked about a little bit with Alex. I'd like to see our hitters get six or seven at-bats every day here."
The biggest question remaining for Rodriguez, and one that he will not be able to answer until the rehab assignment begins, is how his quadriceps will feel when he subjects it to actual game action. He aggravated the injury by busting out of the batter's box on a ground ball to second base and said that it is difficult to mentally restrict his activity to anything less than 100 percent at game speed.
"It's something that, until you sprint in a game or you actually let it go 100 percent, you're really not going to know," he said. "Right now it's just building strength and getting it right."
Girardi said that the Yankees have missed Rodriguez's offense most of all. In A-Rod's absence, New York has experimented with Morgan Ensberg, Wilson Betemit and Alberto Gonzalez at third base while primarily trying Hideki Matsui and Shelley Duncan as cleanup hitters.
"I've got to tell you, I'm looking forward to it," Girardi said of Rodriguez's return. "It's a big bat. His bat is not replaceable. You might be able to do it for a couple of days, but over the long haul, it's not a replaceable bat."