Girardi: Alex ahead of Derek

SEATTLE -- This may turn out to be a moot point depending on how MLB's investigation of Biogenesis turns out, but Joe Girardi today said Alex Rodriguez is closer to returning to action than Derek Jeter.

A-Rod, who underwent hip surgery in January, has been taking batting practice and fielding ground balls while Jeter is still awaiting clearance from the doctors to resume baseball activities.

"He's further ahead than Derek, I think," Girardi said before tonight's game against the Mariners. "We've said both of them after the All-Star break and Derek hasn't really done any baseball activity yet. What is it, June 6? I’m not sure, but it seems like he is [ahead of Jeter]."

This may not seem particularly newsworthy, but is is important to remember that when Jeter suffered his original ankle fracture in Game 1 of the ALCS last October, the Yankees virtually guaranteed he would return by Opening Day, whereas A-Rod's return was always pegged for sometime after the All-Star break. Now, both are slated for after the break, and as it currently stands, A-Rod may come back before Jeter.

According to Girardi -- who insists his texts and conversations with A-Rod are only about baseball, never about Biogenesis -- Rodriguez is making good progress in his rehabilitation.

"He's moving more side-to-side when it comes to ground balls, which is to me a good sign," Girardi said. "For a long time there they were just right at him. But he's moving more side-to-side, so obviously he's feeling more comfortable."

QUESTION: All things considered -- and I mean ALL things -- who do you expect to see back on the field first, Jeter or A-Rod?