<
>

Yankees cautiously optimistic about A-Rod

How good will A-Rod be upon his return? "I expect him to be a productive player," Joe Girardi said. Chris Trotman/Getty Images

MINNEAPOLIS -- It is one of the ironies of covering a professional baseball team that a bit of news that rocks the Twitterverse is often unknown by the players who will be most affected by it until some reporter mentions it to them.

So it was today that neither Robinson Cano nor Mariano Rivera had known that Alex Rodriguez would begin playing in minor league rehab games on Tuesday, meaning his return to the Yankees is at most a mere 20 days away.

"Twenty days? That's good," Cano said before Monday night's game with the Twins at Target Field. "We want him back. As a player, when you love this game, all you want is to be able to play the game, not be hurt and be away from the game for a long time. It’s frustrating when you’re down there. You know if you’re healthy you can help the team win a lot of games and put the team in better position. Hopefully everything will go well for him."

Rivera likewise had not heard that A-Rod is scheduled to play his first rehab game for the Charlotte River Dogs on Tuesday night.

"That’s definitely good," Rivera said. "That’s something positive. We need to do whatever it takes to start winning again. So that’s a good thing."

Earlier, Joe Girardi -- who most certainly did know A-Rod's rehab clock was about to start without having a reporter tell him about it -- said, "This is definitely a step in the right direction."

But he stopped short of setting a date for his third baseman's return -- "He has the 20 days starting [Tuesday], and he must feel pretty good. He must be moving pretty well. We’ll see how it goes." -- or trying to predict how good a player he will be when he gets back.

"I expect him to be a productive player," Girardi said. "The last time he got his hip fixed he came back productive, and hopefully this will solve some of the things that he was dealing with last year. I expect him to be productive. I can’t tell you exactly what he’s going to do, but I think he’s going to be a good player."

Considering the lack of production -- a cumulative .231 batting average, four home runs and 23 RBIs -- the Yankees have gotten out of the five players they have used at third base (not including Vernon Wells, who never came to bat as a third baseman), whatever A-Rod can give the Yankees the rest of the way has got to be an improvement.

QUESTION: How much production do you expect the Yankees to get out of Alex Rodriguez over the final 60 or so games of the season? Let us know below.