CHARLESTON, S.C. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez says he’ll probably need all 20 rehabilitation games allowed to get ready before returning to the Yankees. He’s is confident he’ll be back this season.
First things first, though, and that’s a rehab stint with the Class A Charleston RiverDogs. The three-time AL MVP has been working out at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Florida as he recovered from left hip surgery last January.
Rodriguez is scheduled to play three innings against the Rome Braves.
“Look, I am as curious as you guys are to see how I am going to react. It’s been a while since I was in competition,” he said.
Rodriguez looked healthy and enthusiastic to begin his season. His swing in the batting cage was the same simple flick that’s helped him to 647 career home runs. He took grounders at third next to Yankees teammate Eduardo Nunez, who’s recovering from a left oblique strain and is scheduled to play against Rome as well.
Rodriguez and Nunez enjoyed lunch Tuesday before arriving at the ballpark.
“It’s my first time” in South Carolina, Rodriguez said. “Great Southern hospitality so far.”
Players from the RiverDogs and the Rome Braves lined to dugouts to watch Rodriguez work. It’s the third straight season Rodriguez has spent time in the minors coming back from injuries.
Rodriguez has 20 days to rehab or the Yankees would have to put him back on the disabled list. Will he be back with the big club this season? “We’re scheduled for that 20 days from now,” he said.
Rodriguez said it was likely he’d stay on to play here Wednesday night.
Rodriguez looked smooth in the field, grabbing everything hit his way. His throws to first were strong and on target. When he was done with grounders, Rodriguez signed autographs for fans gathered next to the RiverDogs dugout.
“Good luck to you, Alex,” said Charleston resident Blanche Lloyd after getting a signed baseball.
Rodriguez and Nunez were in Charleston with Pat Roessler, the Yankees director of player development based in Tampa.
A-Rod hopes he can start having a positive impact on the Yankees after last year’s disappointing season and his benching during the American League Championship Series.
“I’ve got to tell you,” Rodriguez said at Riley Park. “I’m really, really excited. This probably has to be the hardest injury I’ve tried to overcome. It has to be the longest process, that’s for sure.”
There were only standing room only tickets available three hours before game time.
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