Alex Rodriguez likely out until Sunday

MINNEAPOLIS -- Alex Rodriguez "feels much better" Friday than he did Thursday. Still, he probably won't play for the New York Yankees again until Sunday. At the earliest.

As he had on Thursday, A-Rod engaged in hitting, running and fielding drills in the early Friday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium before the rest of his teammates took their regular BP for the game against the Minnesota Twins.

But Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he's "leaning against" activating Rodriguez, who has missed six weeks and 34 games following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on July 11, and hinted A-Rod's return might be delayed until the Yankees return home to play the Oakland Athletics.

"I would probably lean against (activating Rodriguez Saturday)," Girardi said. "Sunday or Tuesday or whenever he's ready."

Asked to assess his chances of his playing this weekend, A-Rod said, "I'm not a big percentage guy. I hope this weekend is definitely the target date."

It was unclear precisely who was making the decision on when Rodriguez would be ready to return to action, but both manager and player agreed that his Friday workout was better than the one he went through on Thursday, his first day back with the team since before the All-Star break.

"He felt much better today than he did yesterday," Girardi said. "We felt he definitely wasn't ready to play yesterday and that's why we wanted to go through today. And he knew he wasn't ready yesterday. But he felt a lot better about today's workout. I think it's important to see how he feels later, because today was more intense than yesterday, and see how he recovers. As far as activating him tomorrow, I don't know."

Rodriguez said his knee is no longer a concern, although he will wear a lightweight brace on it for the first couple of weeks back. "We're definitely getting close and I think today was very encouraging," he said. "I'm definitely not counting this weekend out."

Rodriguez said his defensive play was "up to game speed," and that he did well running out of the batter's box and from first to third. Girardi said A-Rod would go through a similar workout before Saturday night's game, after which the 36-year-old third baseman's condition would be evaluated once again.

"I've got to tell you, I'm hungry, I want to get back out there," said Rodriguez, who was hitting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs at the time of his injury. "The way they're playing is just inspiring. To me, the idea is to make sure that I'm ready to go, hit the ground running and never look back. I'm on the right page."

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.