Alex Rodriguez back by early August?

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees could have third baseman Alex Rodriguez back as soon the second week in August, according to general manager Brian Cashman.

In an interview on that aired Sunday on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight," Cashman said Rodriguez is "doing very well" in his rehabilitation from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

"He's in a pool. He's on a bike. (He's) still got a little bit of a limp, which is normal. But I'd be looking at him (returning) maybe the second week of August, you know, at the earliest for me," Cashman said. "That's just us being conservative. I think we can push it and get him back sooner but, why? Our offense is strong."

Rodriguez has been out since July 7 with what originally was a lingering knee injury and later was revealed to be a meniscus tear.

After seeking a second opinion on the ailment, Rodriguez chose to have surgery. He underwent the procedure on July 11 in Miami. He was originally expected to be out four to six weeks.

The Yankees have gone 8-6 in Rodriguez's absence. He is batting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs in 80 games.

Cashman also believes setup man Rafael Soriano will return to the Yankees on Wednesday or Thursday.

Soriano has been on the disabled list since May 14 with right elbow inflammation. He made his third rehab appearance on Sunday with Triple-A Scranton, allowing a solo homer to the first hitter he faced in one inning of relief. In three combined appearances, Soriano has allowed five hits and three runs in 3 1/3 innings pitches. He's allowed two homers and struck out two.

Cashman, speaking before Soriano's outing on Sunday, said Soriano will make another rehab appearance Monday and -- barring any set-backs -- return to the Bronx shortly thereafter.

"If everything goes right, he'll do back-to-back (appearances) today and tomorrow and then I'll activate him probably Wednesday. Wednesday or Thursday," Cashman said.

Soriano, who signed a three-year, $35 million deal to become Mariano Rivera's set-up man in the offseaon, struggled in his brief time up with the Yankees. The righty went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA and walked 11 batters in 15 innings.

Cashman seems eager for Soriano to return.

"Now you have a (David) Robertson, Soriano, Mariano and it strengthens our bullpen just like our rotation," Cashman said.

It is unclear what role Soriano will fill when he returns to the Bronx. Robertson has excelled in the eight-inning role since inheriting it when Joba Chamberlain was lost to season-ending Tommy John surgery on June 8. Robertson suffered a rare hiccup on Sunday, allowing three hits and two runs in an eighth-inning appearance against Oakland.

Rivera was forced to enter the game in the eighth with the Yanks up, 6-4, and convert a four-out save.

In other injury news, Cashman said backup infielder Eric Chavez will return to the Yankees on Tuesday.

Chavez was placed on the disabled list with a broken left foot on May 6.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.