A-Rod: See you in September

He's probably best-casing things, but Alex Rodriguez said this afternoon that he expects to return to action about three weeks from Monday, which could put him back with the Yankees right around Labor Day weekend.

"Everything's on pace,'' A-Rod said, sporting a white bandage under a removable splint on his left hand, protecting a fractured fifth metacarpal suffered on July 25 in Seattle. "My X-ray went well last Thursday. Everything's healing nicely.''

Rodriguez said the injury, suffered when he was hit by a pitch from Felix Hernandez, would be X-rayed again in New York after the Yankees return home on Monday, which will be a day short of three weeks from the date of the injury.

"The doctors say three or four weeks to heal, then a week or two to get your strength back,'' he said. "Then that last week is just going to be pain tolerance. They actually grip your hand, and if it hurts, they kinda lay off. If it doesn't hurt, then you're cleared to hit.''

Although A-Rod was having a sub-par year offensively -- .276-15-44 -- the Yankees have lost 7 of the 11 games they've played without him, a factor his replacement, Eric Chavez, pointed out after Tuesday night's 6-5 loss to the Tigers.

"This all seems to be when we lost Alex,'' Chavez said. "He's just a huge part of our lineup, and I think we're really showing how important he is to this team.''

Joe Girardi agreed that A-Rod'a absence may be hurting the Yankees more than they might have expected.

"The one thing about Alex’s injury is that it’s made us change our lineup a little bit,'' Girardi said. "Chavy was a guy you moved around more and you knida had to leave him in one place, so it has changed our club some, it sure has. He was a guy who was getting on base for us. It does impact our lineup. Hopefully, his injury is not too much longer and we’ll get him back.''