NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez will start a second minor league injury rehabilitation assignment on Friday at Double-A Trenton, hoping to return to the New York Yankees before any suspension by Major League Baseball.
Rodriguez played a simulated game Thursday at the team’s spring training home, and New York said he will play for Trenton against Reading for two games through Saturday.
Trenton Thunder general manager Will Smith said he expects A-Rod to remain available Friday night.
“I don’t imagine I’d receive that phone call,” Smith told WFAN radio of a possible suspension coming down before game time. “You never know. But like I said, we’re going forward as it’s planned and scheduled, and if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. (There’s) certainly a Thunder game going on tonight. You know, we’ll see how things go.”
Smith wasn’t sure whether A-Rod would DH or play at third base.
“I did hear that he’s I think believed to be scheduled to play five innings today and I think seven tomorrow,” Smith told Craig Carton and Michelle Beadle. “I would imagine he’d field, but I’m not sure.”
With the Yankees at San Diego on Sunday, there is little chance the team will tell him fly across the country after a night game for a day game in California.
If he’s not suspended by then, the three-time MVP could rejoin New York for its series opener Monday at the Chicago White Sox. However, it appears MLB will suspend Rodriguez by then for ties to Biogenesis of America, a closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
“It’s been kind of madness here,” the Thunder GM said.
Rodriguez was reportedly in talks with the league about a settlement to avoid a possible lifetime ban.
“Optimism was dimming an agreement could be reached,” the New York Post reported Friday. ESPN reported a “wide gap” between the sides. MLB wants A-Rod to accept a suspension through 2014, according to multiple reports.
Suspensions were expected to be announced sometime Friday, though now it appears MLB has set a Monday deadline.
Four years ago Rodriguez admitted using PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03, but he repeatedly has denied using them since.
Because of wet grounds, the Yankees moved Rodriguez’s simulated game from their minor league complex across the Dale Mabry highway to Steinbrenner Field.
The ballpark was closed to media, who watched from a walkway behind the right-field bullpen. Rodriguez saw 31 pitches over six at-bats, played third and ran bases during the simulated game. About two dozen media members and five television trucks were on hand – but no fans.
Coming back from January hip surgery, Rodriguez was .200 (8 for 40) with two homers and eight RBIs in 13 minor league games from July 2-20 for Class A Tampa and Charleston (S.C.), Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The assignment was cut a day short when he complained of quadriceps tightness, and the Yankees said an MRI in New York on July 21 showed a grade 1 strain.
Rodriguez pushed to be activated later that week, retaining a doctor without giving the Yankees the required notification, and the physician claimed on WFAN radio that he couldn’t detect an injury. During a conference call with Yankees officials on July 25 – Rodriguez insisted one of his lawyers be on the call – the sides agreed to a schedule for his return.
He appeared ready to talk as he was leaving the minor league complex, waving a group of writers to his car in the parking lot and rolling down the window. However, when A-Rod saw a second group with TV cameras approaching, he said “I’ll talk to you guys, but no cameras.”
Rodriguez closed the window and kept the car stationary for a moment, then left without saying another word to reporters.
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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)