A-Rod 0-for-3 but pleased, headed north

TAMPA, Fla. -- Despite going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts Saturday for the Tampa Yankees, Alex Rodriguez said he was delighted with his performance, considering Mother Nature had prevented him from playing the past two days.

"It felt great to play a full game and shake hands at the end," said Rodriguez, who is 2-for-18 with two singles and five strikeouts in seven rehab games with Charleston and Tampa, both Class-A clubs. "I'm happy with my run to first. It's probably the best I've ran my whole rehab. It's definitely a good step, a good process."

(Rodriguez side-stepped a question about whether he was at the stadium on Friday. A source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that A-Rod did not show up for Friday's game, which was subsequently rained out.)

Working toward making a second-half return to the Yankees from offseason hip surgery, A-Rod has been looking to test his body in game action, and he finally was able to do so after being stonewalled by the rain and other extenuating circumstances the past couple of days. He told reporters outside the clubhouse usually reserved for the major league club during spring training that he'd had to be creative with his workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"The rainouts are tricky," Rodriguez said. "That's one of the advantages we've talked about being here on campus. We have all our spring training facilities. There's ways we can be creative."

For example, during the downpour that eventually canceled Thursday's contest, Rodriguez took ground balls underneath the stadium in the batting cages with Yankees director of player development Pat Roessler.

On Saturday, the only real test A-Rod got in the field came in the first inning, when Bradenton clean-up hitter Stetson Allie hit a slow roller toward the 37-year-old veteran at third base. Rodriguez charged toward the ball, gathered it with his glove on the run and threw to first after Allie had easily crossed the base.

The other ground ball Rodriguez handled came in the seventh inning, with a runner on second and Tampa leading 10-0. Rodriguez easily scooped up the routine grounder from Junior Sosa, looked the runner off at second and threw to first for the out.

"The ground ball felt good coming in," said Rodriguez, who has played five games at third base and two as a designated hitter. "I thought today was probably the happiest I've been with the way my body has reacted. It was nice to get a ground ball out there and coming in on it."

While A-Rod failed to produce much of anything at the plate Saturday, he was pleased with his approach and his swing.

"I thought the way I swung the bat, it had some more [velocity] and felt like I had more power behind my swing," Rodriguez said. "Those are the types of things I'm looking for, to really try to impact the baseball and not just have contact."

After grounding out in his first at-bat and striking out in his second plate appearance, the Miami native was hit by a pitch his third time around facing Bradenton starter Robby Rowland. On the next pitch, Peter O'Brien, who was drafted by the Yankees organization out of the University of Miami, blasted a three-run homer.

"It was good to see Pete, my University of Miami friend, hit a home run and drive in five runs," Rodriguez said.

A-Rod told reporters he would be heading up north following Sunday's game with the Tampa Yankees, although he was unsure if it would be to play for Double-A Trenton or Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"I'm definitely going north," Rodriguez said.