Girardi: A-Rod has been 'pretty good'

NEW YORK -- Love him or hate him, it's hard to deny that A-Rod's been an upgrade so far for the Yankees this season.

Before Rodriguez made his debut on Aug. 5, Yankee third baseman had combined to hit an MLB-low .215 with just four homers and a league-low 32 RBIs.

In seven games, A-Rod is hitting .259 with a homer and four RBIs.

Joe Girardi was asked to assess the performance of Rodriguez, who missed the first four months of the season following hip surgery and a quad strain.

"I think he's been pretty good. I think he's swung the bat pretty well," Girardi said. "We've seen him make some good defensive plays. He made a great play the other night going to his right. I've been pleased."

MLB has suspended Rodriguez for 211 games for his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs and attempts to impede baseball's investigation into Biogenesis.

Rodriguez has appealed the suspension and is playing during the appeal process.

NO RETURN DATE FOR JETER: Girardi reiterated that the injured Derek Jeter will return to Tampa this weekend when the Yankees travel to Boston.

Jeter (calf) is eligible to return Sunday against the Red Sox, but the team will make that decision. The Yankees likely won't rush Jeter back as he's landed on the DL twice during his first five games.

Jeter took batting practice, fielded ground balls and ran for the second straight day on Tuesday.

HAFNER HEALING: Travis Hafner (rotator cuff) said he's improving as he rehabs from a right rotator cuff strain.

"Have ways to go but strengthening it up," Hafner told ESPNNewYork.com. "Once it gets to the point that I can start a hitting program, I'll do it."

Hafner, who went on the disabled list retroactive to July 27, is currently doing shoulder strengthening exercises, but is not participating in baseball activities. He believes he'll be checked by a doctor Monday when the Yankees return from their road trip.

The veteran does not expect to return before September, but believes he will be back with the Yankees this season. Hafner is hitting. 205 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs.

"So far the rehab has been really good, I've improved every day," Hafner told ESPNNewYork.com. "As long as I keep that up, I'll be able to come back with a good amount of time."

BROOKLYN'S BETANCES WILL PROBABLY END UP IN PEN: Girardi said he expects Brooklyn product Dellin Betances will end up in the bullpen. The Yankees drafted Betances, a Grand Street HS standout, as a starting pitcher, but he has excelled as a reliever this season. Betances tossed 30 scoreless innings with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Girardi added that things can change.

RANDOLPH AND YOGI: Ex-Yankee player and Met manager Willie Randolph had an interesting relationship with Yankee legend Yogi Berra.

Randolph said in an interview on YES' CenterStage show (to air Wednesday night) that Berra would visit him at Shea Stadium while he was managing the Mets and offer tips.

"Yogi used to come and sit in my office, and we'd just sit there and talk baseball. For him to come to Shea and sit in the office with me and talk to me about the game, 'Hey, Shorty, you doing this wrong ... Shorty, what about this guy?' He calls me Shorty, I don't know why. I'm taller than he is. He's a midget, and he calls me Shorty. 'How you doing, Shorty?' It meant so much to me," Randolph said. "That was just unbelievable [that] he would do that."