Hot dog! A-Rod medically cleared to play in rehab games starting July 1

David Brown

The New York Yankees, with all of their injuries, mediocrities and other disappointments this season, need some good news as June comes to an end. And slugger Alex Rodriguez, of all people, is in great position to give them some.

The New York Daily News, that A-Rod Watch Dog, reports that Rodriguez's recovery from hip surgery is going so well, he has been medically cleared to play in rehab games starting July 1. Of course, any "A-Rod is back!" story comes with some caveats. What does he have left? A-Rod has been in noticeably steady decline since 2007. Will he break down again? He's a soon-to-be 38-year-old coming off hip surgery. And what about that Biogenesis noise? Suspensions have been threatened.

First things first. The Daily News reports that A-Rod, who has been rehabbing his hip at Tampa since January, is a week from playing baseball:

Yankees GM Brian Cashman told the Daily News Sunday that while he hasn’t discussed an exact date for A-Rod’s return to game action, “it sounds like it’s on schedule. He’s been running, throwing, fielding, and I know it’s approaching. It’s coming.”

Rodriguez would begin his minor league rehab assignment in Tampa, then would presumably move up the line, according to Cashman, to “Trenton, then Scranton. Normally, position players need 50-75 at-bats, or 20 games.”

It would be something if the best news the Yankees got all summer was that Rodriguez was coming back, when some fans, media and Bronx front-office types have been trying to run him out of town. It's also an upset that he's in position to beat Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson back to the lineup. The Yankees probably will need a contribution from all of them, before it's over, to get back to the playoffs.

But A-Rod, swinging away and — for the moment, healthy — makes for a fun July Yankee surprise.

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