A-Rod makes rare DL appearance; young Hughes joins him

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a strained right quadriceps, leaving another major hole in the New York Yankees lineup.

Rodriguez hurt his leg April 20 in Baltimore and missed three games last week before returning for a four-game series at Cleveland. But he was removed for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning of Monday night's 5-2 win over the Indians and said he felt a "pull" while running the bases.

"It's painful to see that lineup without me in the cleanup spot and helping my team win every day," Rodriguez said.

The three-time MVP was relieved, however, after a frightening trip to the hospital Tuesday. After spending about three hours getting an MRI exam he thought was going to take about 40 minutes, Rodriguez was told by a technician he could miss the rest of the season.

The stunned third baseman questioned the prognosis for a minute before driving back to Yankee Stadium with "my heart in my shoes," he said. His fears were allayed when team doctors looked at the exam revealing a Grade 2 strain and estimated a shorter absence.

"I'm a quick healer, like I said, historically," Rodriguez said. "They are optimistic that hopefully I can play after two weeks."

This is his fifth stint on the DL and first since July 2000 with Seattle, when he had a strained right knee. His last stop on the injured list didn't seem to slow him down too much -- he finished with 41 homers and 132 RBIs in his last season with the Mariners.

Rodriguez, who said he suffered a similar injury in high school, could go for a minor league rehab stint after he is cleared to play.

"My biggest goal coming into the year, every year, is to play 162 (games) and it's very upsetting to be in this situation," said Rodriguez, who is batting .286 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 24 games this season.

A-Rod's absence comes at a difficult time for New York, which is already missing injured catcher Jorge Posada. The Yankees also put starter Phil Hughes on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday night with a strained right oblique muscle.

"It's frustrating but you kind of just got to deal with it," said Hughes, who is 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in six starts this year. "There's not much else you can do."

Hughes lasted just 3 2/3 innings in a 6-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night. He allowed six runs and eight hits.

"We obviously went through a tough time last night and he's struggling so we've had some discussions earlier today and we'll get together and have some further ones," general manager Brian Cashman said earlier Wednesday.

Cashman said he hopes to have a better idea about Posada's ailing throwing shoulder in the next two days.

Posada, placed on the disabled list Monday for the first time in his career, was examined by club physician Dr. Stuart Hershon on Tuesday night and is scheduled to see New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek on Thursday. Cincinnati Reds team physician Dr. Timothy Kremchek, a shoulder specialist, also is going to look at scans from Posada's visit to renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Alabama.

"Once we get all that information I think we'll be able to talk about what we think we're dealing with," Cashman said, "if it's anything different, anything more, something new."

Alberto Gonzalez was at third base and Jose Molina behind the plate for Wednesday night's game against the Detroit Tigers. Gonzalez went 0-for-4, and Molina 0-for-3 in New York's 6-2 loss.

Morgan Ensberg started at third and rookie Chris Stewart was the catcher for New York's 6-4 loss to Detroit on Tuesday night.

Molina should see much of the time at catcher with Posada out, but manager Joe Girardi was noncommittal about who was going to play third.

"We'll take it day by day," he said. "The one thing that you have to be careful with is you can't make promises. You can't say these 15 games, you're going to play 10, you're going to play five. One guy might get extremely hot."

Wilson Betemit, sidelined with corneal conjunctivitis, also could be in the mix when he rejoins the team. He is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Reliever Brian Bruney, another injured Yankee, has decided to rehab his injured right foot instead of opting for season-ending surgery. The club is hoping to get him back in August.

The Yankees optioned Stewart to Scranton on Wednesday and recalled reliever Chris Britton from their top farm club just one day after they sent him down. They also signed catcher Chad Moeller after designating him for assignment on Friday.

Moeller cleared waivers, declined an assignment to Scranton, then signed a free-agent deal with New York. Reliever Sean Henn was reinstated from a rehab stint and designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.