A-Rod to the Rescue

Alex Rodriguez will make his season debut for the New York Yankees on Friday night in Baltimore, joining a team mired in its longest losing streak in nearly two years.

The Yankees announced that A-Rod would rejoin the team on Thursday, a few hours after the All-Star third baseman played in his final rehab game in Florida. He went 0 for 2 with two walks and put in three innings of defense, then took some extra ground balls and batting practice.
He rejoins a team that has lost five straight games for the first time since May 2007.

“None of us is asking him to be the savior,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Thursday night, after an 8-6 loss to Tampa Bay. “We're just asking Alex to be Alex.”

Rodriguez had surgery March 9 to repair torn cartilage in his right hip, and has recovered more quickly than expected. The Yankees had initially set a target date for his return of May 15.

“A lot of us had a hard time wrapping our arms around it, that it was actually physically possible, because we hadn't seen a player come back this quick from that kind of surgery,” Girardi said. “But now that we're to this point, it's kind of exciting.”

The three-time AL MVP spent much of his rehab assignment facing questions about a biography released this week that suggests he used performance-enhancing drugs in high school and may also have taken them after he became a Yankee in 2004.

Rodriguez hasn't commented about the book. He admitted earlier this year to taking steroids when he was a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001-03.
On Thursday, he shook hands and thanked support staff at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa following the intrasquad game.
A-Rod credited Dr. Marc Philippon, who operated on the hip, and Dr. Mark Lindsay, a soft-tissue expert who has worked with him daily in Florida, for the success of his rehab program.

“They have worked (hard) with me,” Rodriguez said. “Philippon did a good job with the surgery. I feel blessed.”

His return comes at an opportune time for the Yankees, who have struggled to find key hits. They're 6 for 43 with runners in scoring position during their skid, and their 13-15 start after a big offseason spending spree has already put some heat on Girardi.

“We need some more production on the offensive side and Alex is the guy who could do it,” outfielder Johnny Damon said. “I mean, he's definitely one of the best players around. Yeah, it would give us some confidence.”
Girardi said he hoped A-Rod's presence will allow other players in the lineup to see better pitches, including Mark Teixeira, who was booed lustily while going 0 for 5 Thursday night.

“I'm not expecting Alex to hit a home run every time and get a hit every time he comes up and every time there's a runner on he drives them in, but I know it changes the way a team approaches our lineup,” Girardi said. “It makes our lineup deeper. He's a threat every time he walks up to the plate, there's just so many things he can do.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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