A-Rod won't play this week; Posada throws for first time

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez's strained right quadriceps will keep him from playing this week, causing the AL MVP to miss this weekend's series against the crosstown rival New York Mets.

"It's still not where it needs to be. I don't see him playing this week," New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Monday night's 7-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. "You can't afford to have him come back for two days and lose him again for six weeks."

Rodriguez hasn't played since April 28 and is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Thursday.

He had an MRI exam Monday, then worked out at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa for an hour. A-Rod took batting practice, fielded grounders and ran for about eight minutes in the outfield.

"Taking it one day at a time," said Rodriguez, who later showed up at Tropicana Field and sat with teammates in the dugout during the game.

Rodriguez took 87 swings and homered to all fields, including a few long opposite-field shots and one to dead center. He played catch and took groundballs at third base, but didn't run the bases during the workout.

Asked if he was pleased with the progress of his rehab, he said: "So far, yes."

While Girardi ruled out his return for the Mets' series at Yankee Stadium, the manager said there's still a possibility A-Rod could participate in extended spring training games this week after doctors compare the results of Monday's MRI with an earlier exam.

The manager talked with the third baseman after he arrived at Tropicana Field. The next

"He feels good. I think he was a little bit disappointed that he wasn't going to play a game [Tuesday]," Girardi said. "We'll compare the MRIs, then we'll decide what the next step is for him."

Rodriguez initially injured his quad running out a grounder at Baltimore on April 20. He sat out three games before returning to the lineup on April 25. He appeared in four games before leaving during the eighth inning of a victory at Cleveland.

Two days later, he began his first stint on the DL since July 2000, when he missed 15 games with a right knee strain.

Teammate Johnny Damon said it's important to keep Monday's development in perspective.

"We need him to be healthy for the long haul," Damon said. "I think we all were definitely hoping [he'd return]. You can't rush him. We need to make sure he's 100 percent."

There was more encouraging news on the rehab front with catcher Jorge Posada, who threw for the first time since being placed on the DL with right rotator cuff tendinitis. He made 25 throws from 60 feet following a 15-throw warmup session.

Meanwhile, right-handed pitcher Ian Kennedy is headed back to the starting rotation. He was pulled after one inning of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre's game against Indianapolis and will rejoin the Yankees for Thursday's series finale against Tampa Bay.

Kennedy is one of two young pitchers to open the season in the rotation. He was sent to the minors after going 0-2 with a 8.37 ERA in six appearances, five starts.

"We're going to give him another shot," Girardi said. "He's got a chance to get it going."

Left-hander Kei Igawa, hit hard at Detroit in his return to the majors, was moved into the bullpen. Girardi said it hadn't been determined whether Igawa would remain a reliever long-term.

"However we need him, we'll use him," Girardi said. "Obviously, we want him to be productive and win games. ... We need to see him continue to improve. Right now, he's going to have a chance to show us in the bullpen."