Barring a setback from left hip surgery this weekend, Alex Rodriguez will return to the Yankees on Monday, team president Randy Levine confirmed to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. His 20-day minor-league rehab assignment ends that day.
"If he's ready to come back, and he's healthy, he'll be back Monday night," said Levine to Nightengale. "We need Alex Rodriguez. We need a right-handed bat. We need a third baseman. He's the best third baseman we've got. And if he's hot, he can carry us.''
Rodriguez, 37, is currently playing rehab games with the team's Triple-A affiliate. He went 1-for-4 with a home run Thursday night and has gone 6-for-32 (.188) in 11 rehab games. In his last four rehab games, A-Rod has gone 4-for-14 (.286) with a double and two homers. He's slated to play Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“I think we have one big obstacle and that's this weekend. That includes four games," said Rodriguez to Dan Martin of the New York Post prior to Thurday's game. After that's over, we'll huddle up with our medical staff, the front office, Joe [Girardi], our manager, and we'll come up with the best decision and what's the schedule. And that will come from them."
Six players have started a game at third base for the Yankees this season: Kevin Youkilis, David Adams, Alberto Gonzalez, Jayson Nix, Luis Cruz and Chris Nelson. They've hit a collective .225/.288/.301 (61 OPS+) with four home runs, so even an aging and diminished A-Rod figures to be a big upgrade to New York's offense.
Both Levine and Rodriguez declined to comment on MLB's ongoing investigation into the South Florida anti-aging Biogenesis clinic. A-Rod was interviewed about his connection to the clinic last week. His legal team is reportedly considering a plea agreement with the league.
The Yankees sit in fourth place in the AL East at 54-44, six games back in the division and three games back of a wild-card spot. They open a four-game series against the Rangers in Texas on Monday.