MOOSIC, Pa. — With cameras flashing for every at-bat, A-Rod the minor leaguer moved closer to rejoining the New York Yankees.
Alex Rodriguez, though, still just doesn’t feel ready to join the big lineup.
Rodriguez said after his final minor-league rehabilitation game that he will not play for the AL-East leading Yankees on Thursday when they open a series at Minnesota. Rodriguez was noncommittal about Friday’s game.
“Offensively, I feel like I’m there,” Rodriguez said Wednesday night. “The next day or two are the last final stages.”
Rodriguez was lifted for a pinch runner after he lined an opposite-field, RBI single to right in the eighth inning. He went 1 for 2 with an RBI and two walks. He also made an error in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 3-2 loss to Durham in Triple-A action.
New York manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday Rodriguez told him his right knee still felt “tentative.” Rodriguez had surgery last month for a torn meniscus. Girardi said Rodriguez may not be activated, anyway, on Thursday.
“Our plans right now are still to bring him to Minnesota (on Thursday) if everything goes OK,” Girardi said prior to the Yankees’ game in Kansas City. “We may not activate him. We may have him just go through some things for a couple of days and wait a couple of days to activate him.”
When A-Rod does rejoin the roster, he may be the designated hitter and not start right away at third base.
“That’s a possibility,” Girardi said. “That’s something I’ll definitely consider. Let’s get through tonight and get him to Minnesota tomorrow, and we’re going to take a look at him.”
Batting third, Rodriguez was in an 0-2 hole against Durham starter, and top Tampa Bay pitching prospect, Matt Moore before he worked a walk in the fourth.
Rodriguez, who has 626 career homers, struck out looking against reliever Joe Bateman in the sixth. And he let a ball scoot through his legs in the first inning.
A-Rod’s arrival attracted an announced total of 10,408, the largest crowd of the season. He received a nice ovation from the thinned-out crowd as he left the game after his single off Dane De La Rosa cut Durham’s lead to 3-2 and concluded the scoring.
Rodriguez was the last player off the field during pregame warmups, and tossed a ball into the stands as he jogged into the dugout. He was cheered by a huge crowd in Yankees gear that had lined up outside PNC Field hours before the gates opened.
Girardi said he would make a decision to activate A-Rod after watching the 36-year-old Rodriguez work out.
“Just watching him run, watching him move around and see what he says, how he feels,” Girardi said.
The Yankees will play four games against the Twins at Target Field. They went into Wednesday’s contest one game ahead of Boston in the AL East.
They’ll be careful not to rush A-Rod, either way.
“A couple of days, if you rush it, could cost you a couple of weeks,” Girardi said. “You can end up hurting something else. That’s why we want to take a look at him with our own eyes and see how far he is away and see if he’s ready.”
Rodriguez, in his first Triple-A game on Tuesday, lined a single to right, before flying out to left, and popping up to second.
“I don’t think that’s so abnormal,” Girardi said of Rodriguez’s “tentative” status. “He ran probably 3½ weeks tentative. And you can kind of get used to running a certain way. He’s been this way for probably the last eight weeks now.
“He has to get that out of his mind.”
Wednesday’s rehabilitation game was Rodriguez’s fourth, after playing two over the weekend in Dunedin, Fla., for the Single-A Tampa Yankees. He was the DH for two games vs. the Dunedin Blue Jays, and homered in his first at-bat on Friday night.