A-Rod slides in latest rehab effort

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez slid for the first time since hip surgery, going 1-for-5 with a walk Wednesday in a New York Yankees extended spring training game.

Rodriguez said he doesn't know whether he'll rejoin the Yankees on Friday in Baltimore, but manager Joe Girardi sounded optimistic that the three-time AL MVP will be back.

"People are asking if it's Friday," Girardi said Wednesday, before the Yankees opened a two-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. "I'm not going to say 100 percent he's not going to be here -- or he is going to be here."

A-Rod singled up the middle as a designated hitter, and in the third inning he walked and slid into second on an inning-ending infield grounder.

"The slide was good. No problems," he said. "I feel good."

Rodriguez had hip surgery March 9 and the third baseman has been on the disabled list since the start of the season. The Yankees planned to give Rodriguez a break as a DH after he played defense for seven innings in consecutive games Monday and Tuesday.

Rodriguez was expected to play six innings Thursday, when New York's extended spring team is scheduled for an intrasquad game. That could be his final game in Florida if he does rejoin the Yankees for the opener of the weekend series at Baltimore.

The Yankees have said that sliding was one of the final tests in Rodriguez's rehab program. When asked if he had reservations about sliding again, Rodriguez replied: "Nope."

Girardi doesn't expect Rodriguez to need a day off before rejoining the Yankees but will leave that decision up to the slugger.

"This was a serious injury and he's been going at it real hard," Girardi said. "You don't want him feeling weak going into games. You want him to feel strong."

Chien-Ming Wang, on the DL with weakness of the abductor muscles in his hips, was also scheduled to pitch in Thursday's extended spring game.

Also, pitcher Humberto Sanchez, released by New York on April 25 to open a spot on the 40-man roster, agreed to a minor league deal with the Yankees. He is working out at the team's complex in Florida.