A-Rod takes field for first time since hip surgery
Third baseman joins rest of rehabbing Yankees at complex in Tampa
TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez ran, played catch and hit off a tee on Monday, his first activity on the field since undergoing surgery on his left hip in January.
But Rodriguez certainly wasn't alone at the Yankees' Minor League complex. He was joined by a large group of Yanks working their way back from injuries, including Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova, Cesar Cabral and Michael Pineda. They'll soon be joined by Derek Jeter as well.
"We always talk about it: Injuries are part of the game. But God dang, this is crazy," Rodriguez said. "I've never seen anything like it. It's remarkable."
Like Jeter and several banged-up Yankees, Rodriguez could be in Tampa for quite some time. He said Monday began a 30-day plan put together by his doctors and the Yanks, and they will re-evaluate where he stands after that. It's likely that Rodriguez would then begin another 30-day schedule, putting him in line to return some time after the All-Star break.
Rodriguez said he didn't want to set a timetable regarding his comeback, instead focusing on the plan for each day. He wouldn't even say for certain that he'll be back on the field this season.
"I really hope so. That's as specific as I'll get," Rodriguez said. "But I'm working 24/7 to get back on the field. There's no surprise: The way the season ended last year was very embarrassing. It was very tough on me, and obviously, [for] our team, it was devastating, the sweep against Detroit.
"I have a lot of unfinished business. I'm looking forward to getting back and helping my team win."
Rodriguez went 3-for-25 with no extra-base hits last postseason. While he said Monday he wouldn't let the injury serve as a catch-all excuse for his poor performance because he was still healthy enough to play, he also said he's ready to start playing "close to 100 percent and being who I am."
Whether Rodriguez can match his previous production is another question entirely. He admitted this hip injury was "a lot deeper, a lot more severe" than the operation on his right hip in March 2009. Rodriguez returned from that surgery in less than two months.
"I can only control what I can control, and that's going out and busting my [behind] and working hard," Rodriguez said. "I'm just so excited to be back out there swinging the bat and trying to get back to normality."
That started Monday, when Rodriguez arrived at the Yankees' complex around 10:30 a.m. ET. He showed up in a white sweater and khaki pants, and left about three hours later in his Maybach 57 S after signing autographs for about 40 fans lined up on the Himes Avenue sidewalk, including a small group that pulled over and left their car running with the doors open as they dashed over to see him.
Rodriguez said picking up a bat for the first time in months was "like being 8 years old again. ... It was pretty exciting." And he spoke glowingly about the way the Yanks have played without all their injured superstars.
"It's been extremely inspiring to watch the guys, the way they've played this year, the power of team effort, working together the way they have," Rodriguez said. "It's been really fun watching them."
Teixeira echoed those thoughts, praising the Yankees for their 18-12 record -- second-best in the American League East -- and lamenting the fact that he couldn't be with them. But he said he was happy to see Rodriguez, who spent Spring Training away from the team while working out in New York and Miami.
"It's great seeing him. He's a little bit further behind than we are, obviously, but he's just happy to be back doing some baseball activities," Teixeira said. "He's got a big smile on his face right now, which is good."
Teixeira, out with a partially torn tendon in his right wrist, fielded ground balls and took about 20 swings on soft-toss pitches, then 20 more in live batting practice in a cage. He didn't expect to hit on the field until later this week, but said he was "very, very happy" with how he's felt so far.
Granderson was set to play in another extended spring game on Monday afternoon. The outfielder has been sidelined since Spring Training by a fractured right forearm, but he's perhaps the closest of the group to starting a Minor League rehab assignment if everything goes according to plan.
But there will be no shortage of rehabbing Yankees left behind in Tampa.
"We don't want to be here," Teixeira said. "We'd rather be with the team in Colorado, but we're making the most of it."