Manager Joe Girardi doesn't think it will be a big deal to Alex Rodriguez's New York Yankees teammates if the slugger makes his season debut Monday night in Chicago.
Girardi might be one of the few to feel that way.
With the Biogenesis scandal hanging over his head, Rodriguez could be in the lineup for the series opener against a White Sox team trying to avoid its worst skid in 57 years.
Rodriguez hasn't played this season due to offseason hip surgery and a quadriceps injury that followed, but the three-time AL MVP appears ready to go after completing a rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Trenton.
Rodriguez's injury situation, though, is the least of his concerns, as Major League Baseball suspended him through the 2014 season for his link to a clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The suspension, announced hours before this game, is set to begin Thursday.
"I don't suspect it'll be awkward (if Rodriguez is back). Most of these guys know him as a teammate and have laughed a lot with Alex and been around Alex a lot,'' said Girardi, whose team is 57-53 and a season-worst 9 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East following Sunday's 6-3 loss at San Diego. "I think it'll be business as usual. I'm sure there will be more media there, obviously ... but I think that's probably more for Alex to deal with than the rest of the guys. I don't think it'll be a big deal.''
While Rodriguez could be manning third base for the first time this season, the left side of the Yankees' infield will be missing Derek Jeter - again. The team captain, who has sat out the last two games, has a mild strain in his right calf that could have happened while making a play in Friday's 7-2 loss.
Jeter, who was activated from the disabled list last Sunday (strained right quadriceps), has played in five games this season after making his debut July 11 following offseason surgery on a broken left ankle suffered in the 2012 AL championship series.
"It's frustrating,'' Jeter said Sunday. "It's terrible. The whole season has been a nightmare.''
It's definitely been one for the White Sox (40-69), who limp home following a winless seven-game trip. Chicago has dropped 10 straight for the first time since June 11-20, 1976. The club's last 11-game skid spanned from July 7-18, 1956.
"There are not too many people in here, myself included, that have experience with what's happening here," captain Paul Konerko, whose ninth-inning homer forced extras in Sunday's 3-2, 12-inning loss to Detroit, told the White Sox's official website. "I was never on a team like this and a lot of the guys are the same way.
"We are just trying to get through and you just try to do the best you can at the moments you are in there playing and making decisions to do stuff. That's it. There are not a lot of positives. You have to try to find them as best you can personally and as a team."
Adam Dunn hit .393 (11 for 28) on the trip, but the White Sox batted .213 as a team with 18 total runs.
To help provide some kind of spark, Chicago could call up outfielder Avisail Garcia, who was acquired from the Tigers in the three-team deal Tuesday that sent Jake Peavy to Boston, at some point during its 10-game homestand. Garcia is 4 for 12 with a homer and four RBIs at Triple-A Charlotte.
Jose Quintana (5-3, 3.62 ERA), a former Yankees farmhand, will get the ball Monday after throwing five innings of three-run ball in Wednesday's 6-5, 10-inning loss at Cleveland. The left-hander recorded his major league-high 14th no-decision.
Quintana has faced the Yankees once, a 14-7 victory in the Bronx last June 12 when he gave up six runs in six innings.
New York's Andy Pettitte (7-8, 4.28) has made his last three starts on the road, and the Yankees have lost each time. The left-hander gave up two runs in seven innings Tuesday - his longest start since June 14 - before the Dodgers walked off with a 3-2 win.
Pettitte is 3-7 with a 6.01 ERA in 13 starts at U.S. Cellular Field, including Game 2 of the 2005 World Series while with Houston.
Yankees newcomer Alfonso Soriano will return to Chicago for the first time since he was acquired from the Cubs on July 26. Soriano, batting .241 with a homer since that deal, is 6 for 8 with a homer at U.S. Cellular Field this season, including a 2-for-3 effort against Quintana in a 7-0 Cubs win May 27.
The White Sox won five of seven from the Yankees last season, including a sweep in Chicago from Aug. 20-22.
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