Rodriguez and the Yankees would like the third baseman, who fractured his left hand July 24, to go on a rehab assignment before they activate him from the disabled list. The regular seasons for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton end Monday, but each team will play in the postseason, providing more opportunities for Rodriguez to face live pitching before his September return.
"Our thought process is, let's get through these next couple days -- today, tomorrow -- and let's see where he's at," said manager Joe Girardi. "Today's the first day he really took BP on the field, so let's see how he feels tomorrow before we start trying to predict where he's going to be. But our hope is it's not too far off."
Rodriguez said he wants to make sure he is "a force in the middle of the lineup" upon his return after hitting .319 (15-for-47) in 12 games between the All-Star break and taking a Felix Hernandez changeup off his hand. He missed time late in the season last year with a knee injury and returned to hit .174 (15-for-86) between the regular season and playoffs, but expects better results this season since he was able to keep his legs in better shape while his hand healed.
Girardi also pointed to a thumb injury that Rodriguez suffered immediately after his return last year to account for Rodriguez's struggles.
"You can say it's a similar situation, but you have to remember he hurt his thumb right when he came back. My plan is I don't want him to hurt his thumb this year," Girardi said. "I think if he's healthy, he's going to be fine."
Rodriguez said he felt some soreness taking live swings, but was assured by doctors that his hand is healing well and he can proceed in his rehab. Still, he wants to take a cautious approach, pointing to other American League sluggers, such as Jose Bautista and David Ortiz, who came back from injuries only to quickly return to the disabled list.
"I think my legs are coming under me and I see light at the end of the tunnel," Rodriguez said. "My expectation is to come back full strength and help this team win."