LOS ANGELES -- Even with Major League Baseball's cloud of expected discipline continuing to hover over Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees third baseman is proceeding as though he expects to resume playing in big league games.
Rodriguez will participate in a simulated game at the Yankees' complex on Thursday, and general manager Brian Cashman said that the club plans to have Rodriguez begin a new Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Friday.
Those on-field activities are being planned even as MLB is reportedly poised to hit Rodriguez with a substantial penalty for his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic and other activities related to alleged performance-enhancing drugs.
Cashman said that the Yankees will determine the site of Rodriguez's scheduled game on Friday after reviewing the weather forecasts; a return to Double-A Trenton, which is home against Reading, would figure to be a possibility.
"We have a schedule, but also we're going to be checking the weather and all that stuff, too," Cashman said. "I'm not going to say where it is at this stage yet. I'll just take it one day at a time."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he continues to plan as though Rodriguez will be in his lineup at some point.
"I think you have to at this point," Girardi said. "Nothing's been handed down, so I think you have to. We expected to have him back at this point. We don't have him yet, but I know he's playing in a simulated game tomorrow, and that's a step in the right direction."
The plan with Rodriguez, who has not played since July 20 because of a Grade 1 strain of his left quadriceps, could be moot if MLB announces suspensions.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that a source familiar with the discussions said MLB is threatening to hit Rodriguez with a lifetime ban unless Rodriguez agrees not to fight a lengthy suspension.
The AP also reported that it is unclear whether Commissioner Bud Selig would actually issue a lifetime ban, noting that baseball officials believe such a levy would be shortened by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
Asked if he wanted the uncertainty of Rodriguez's situation to end, Girardi said, "I think everyone wants things to be finalized, but even when they're finalized, they're not really final. So it's a waiting game for a lot of clubs and baseball players, but it will happen soon enough."
Cashman said that the Yankees are still looking toward having Rodriguez participate in a Minor League game Friday, then join the Yankees, potentially as soon as this weekend in San Diego.
Cashman declined to say how many Minor League rehab games Rodriguez would be scheduled for.
"Tomorrow's simulated game is the first step in that process," Cashman said. "I just don't want to go anything past tomorrow because of the weather. The plan would be for him to be in a rehab game on Friday, but we've just got to check the weather and make sure we're in a safe harbor whichever way we go on that rehab game."
Rodriguez arrived at the Yankees' Tampa complex at approximately 8:45 a.m. ET on Wednesday and worked out for about three hours, taking on-field batting practice, ground balls at third base and baserunning drills.
He left the field at approximately 11:25 a.m. and departed the complex less than 60 minutes later without speaking to reporters.