Alex Rodriguez found himself in a baseball lineup for the first time since an otherwise forgettable October, and that was reason enough for him to be happy Tuesday night.
In another step toward his recovery from hip surgery in January, Rodriguez went hitless in two at-bats for the Charleston (S.C.) Riverdogs, a Class A team of the New York Yankees. A-Rod grounded into a double play in his first at-bat and struck out in his second against 23-year-old right-hander Williams Perez of the Braves organization.
Rodriguez, playing third base, also was tested on defense the first play of the game when Kyle Wren — son of Atlanta GM Frank Wren — dropped a bunt in his vicinity. A-Rod wasn't able to throw him out.
The Associated Press was on the scene and filed this report:
Rodriguez earlier said he'd need all 20 days of rehabilitation games to prepare for his return to the New York Yankees and that assessment didn't change after his first game.
"It's a slow progression," Rodriguez said. "Three innings is not a heck of a lot. Two at-bats is not much. It almost feels like March 1 in spring training and that's basically the approach."
He said a benchmark would come tomorrow morning when he sees how his body feels after this game. Rodriguez still planned to play Wednesday night before working out on Thursday.
Overall, this is good news — even great news — for the Yankees, who sit at 44-39, six games back in the AL East and have spent most of the season fretting about injuries, checking insurance forms and bickering with A-Rod about whatever. Even though the Biogeneis cloud potentially hangs over his return, a healthy Rodriguez at 38 years old is a better option than the motley crew New York has trotted to third base this season.
A fan in the stands at Riley Park took some video of A-Rod's first game back. Please enjoy it with our compliments:
The Riverdogs didn't break an attendance record for A-Rod's first appearance, but 8,255 fans showed up — just short of the stadium's biggest crowd, set opening day 2007.
"I've got to tell you," Rodriguez said. "I'm really, really excited. This probably has to be the hardest injury I've tried to overcome. It has to be the longest."