TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez is back on the field for the first time since surgery on his left hip almost four months ago.
He joined a group of injured New York Yankees starters Monday at the team’s minor league complex in Florida. The 37-year-old third baseman ran, played catch and hit off a tee.
Rodriguez says it’s “like being 8 years old again when I first grabbed a bat.” He adds that it’s “pretty exciting” and he’s “really looking forward to getting back.”
Rodriguez had surgery Jan. 16 and could return to the Yankees after the All-Star break. A surgeon repaired a torn labrum and impingement in the operation in New York.
“It feels good to be back out in uniform,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a rough stretch with the rehab, obviously. It’s small bites at a time.”
Rodriguez is currently taking part in a 30-day rehab schedule set up by his doctors and team officials.
“We’re taking it four weeks at a time,” Rodriguez said. “Today is one of 30.”
The upbeat A-Rod signed autographs and took photos with around 40 fans waiting for him outside the player’s parking lot. Fans driving by stopped their car near the complex driveway and jumped out to have photos taken.
“I have a lot of unfinished business,” said Rodriguez, who struggled offensively late last season. “I’m really looking forward to getting back on the field close to 100 percent and being who I am.”
A-Rod batted .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs in 122 games in 2012.
Outfielder Curtis Granderson (broken right forearm), first baseman Mark Teixeira (right wrist), corner infielder Kevin Youkilis (lumbar spine sprain), and catcher Francisco Cervelli (broken hand) are also rehabbing injuries in Florida.
“It’s great seeing him,” Teixeira said. “He’s just happy to be back, doing some baseball activities. He’s got a big smile on his face right now, which is great.”
Shortstop Derek Jeter is also on the disabled list with a broken ankle, and is not expected back until after the All-Star break.
“We always talk about injuries are a part of the game, but this is crazy” Rodriguez said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. But I’ve got to tell you, the way those guys are playing up there, the job the front office has done putting these guys together at the last minute, hats off to everyone.”
The Miami New Times reported this year that Rodriguez bought human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances in recent years from Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed clinic in Coral Cables, near the three-time AL MVP’s offseason home.
Rodriguez has denied the allegations.
“I can only control what I can control,” Rodriguez said. “I’m really focusing on all the great things that have happened in the game. I’m really focused on getting healthy, and just getting back and helping the Yankees win a championship.”
A 14-time All-Star, Rodriguez had right hip surgery on March 9, 2009, and returned that May 8. He is due $114 million over the next five years as part of his $275 million, 10-year contract.
Jeter found out he fractured his left ankle for a second time in six months on April 18. At that time the Yankees said the team captain should be able to resume his rehabilitation when the new crack heals in about four to eight weeks.
Out since injuring his wrist with the U.S. on March 5 before the World Baseball Classic, Teixeira took batting practice in an indoor cage and hopes to start on-field BP in the next few days.
“I’m very, very happy with where I am right now,” Teixeira said.
Granderson, who broke the arm Feb. 24 in his first at-bat of spring training when he was hit by a pitch from Toronto’s J.A. Happ, is playing in extended spring training games and expected to rejoin the team this month.
Youkilis is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on May 13. Cervelli broken his hand April 26 and is expected to miss at least six weeks.
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