May 01, 2009

Alex Rodriguez took another step toward rejoining the New York Yankees following hip surgery, batting seven times in an extended spring training game against Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguers.

Rodriguez grounded a single between third base and shortstop in his final at-bat Friday, finishing 1 for 6 with a walk as a designated hitter for the second straight day.

The rehabbing third baseman, who has yet to play in the field, was 1 for 6 with a homer and two walks in an extended spring intrasquad game in Tampa on Thursday. He had surgery in March.

"I felt pretty good. I'm looking forward to getting back on the field," said Rodriguez, who did not take questions before jogging away from a small group of reporters and photographers at Pirate City.

The three-time AL MVP worked out on an adjacent field before the game, taking grounders and doing some running and agility drills before moving indoors to take swings in a batting cage. He batted third in every inning, except the first, when he didn't go to the plate after finishing his indoor work.

"We talked about, if he feels up to it tomorrow, possibly playing third base for about five innings, and then we'll see where we're at on Sunday," New York manager Joe Girardi said before the Yankees' game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Girardi remained hopeful that the slugger could return soon.

"I'm not going to give a date, because I don't want to put any pressure and I've kind of stuck to that," he said. "But I've also said, you know, recently that it's possible we're going to get him sooner than May 15."

Rodriguez, who left the game after his eighth-inning single off Brandon Holden, took a called third strike from right-hander Edgar Gutierrez in the third. He was 0 for 3 against righty Ryan Kelly, who retired him on two routine flyballs to the outfield and a grounder to shortstop.

Rodriguez ran less than full speed to first base on the grounder, and jogged all the way to third after he flied to right field to make the final out of the fourth inning.

On Saturday, he is expected to play in another extended spring training game against the Pirates at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa.

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