Alex Rodriguez’s progression in his recovery has sped up in the last week.
On Tuesday, he began taking batting practice at Yankee Stadium and Friday night he faced live pitching for the first time since breaking his left hand in Seattle on July 24.
Rodriguez spent his Friday night playing in a rehab game for Single-A Tampa of the Florida State League at Lakeland. He was the team’s designated hitter out of the leadoff spot and went 0-for-3 with a walk, two strikeouts and one run scored.
In his first at-bat he faced Australian right-hander Warwick Saupold and grounded out to shortstop. In his second appearance he walked and scored from second on a Tyler Austin double.
Rodriguez came up twice in the fourth inning, but in his second at-bat of the frame he was called out on strikes for the final out.
In his final at-bat, Rodriguez struck out swinging. He is expected to appear in at least one more rehab game over the weekend and may return to the Yankees sometime next week.
“You hope he comes back swinging like he did before he got hurt; that’s the idea,” manager Joe Girardi said. “This is a guy who is supposed to be an impact player for us, so you hope he makes a big impact.”
Pettitte upbeat after first bullpen
Andy Pettitte admitted to having some jitters about his first bullpen session since going on the disabled list two months ago.
When the session concluded Friday afternoon, Pettitte was upbeat and perhaps the most encouraged throughout his entire rehab process.
“I feel like I’m getting real, real close.” Pettitte said. “It was huge. I was getting a little paranoid about how it was going to feel, but today was good.”
Pettitte threw 20 pitches off the bullpen mound but did so without exerting much force while pushing off. That is expected to be the next step. His upcoming bullpen sessions which will be roughly 35 to 40 pitches.
“It’s good,” Girardi said. “It’s obviously a step in the right direction. We’ll try to get him out him in the bullpen the next few days and just try to continue to progress.
“That means his leg is obviously feeling a lot better for him to be able to do what he did today and that’s what we needed to see.”
Pettitte said that while he’ll be cautious, he’s really close to completely healing. If that is the case and he has no setbacks, he would like to make two starts before the postseason.
Nova anticipates returning
Ivan Nova has been on the disabled list since Aug. 23 and is not eligible to be activated until next weekend.
Nova took the first steps to a return with a long-toss session on Friday and indicated that his injured right shoulder is getting better, which is a good thing for him since he was antsy in his first major league DL stint.
“I was getting crazy,” he said. “I’ve been in here doing nothing. I want to do all my stuff. I want to throw. I want to pitch. After I threw yesterday for the first time, I was so happy.”
No panic from both sides
If Girardi did not see his team loose after a lead that was once 10 games but now only three, he would be worried.
“I think if you walk in the clubhouse and you realize there’s no sense of panic,” he said. “Everyone has a smile on their face and everyone came to work ready to go. Guys are taking their early BP. It’s business as usual. The thing about a season is you’re going to go through ups and downs. It’s how you manage them. This isn’t the first time we’ve had this in the course of the season. We’ve responded and we’ve bounced back and that’s what I expect.
As for the Orioles, manager Buck Showalter said that their advance meeting about the Yankees took the same amount of time as one would for any other opponent.
“We had the amount of time on the advance meeting today,” Showalter said. “It’ll get a little longer with some of the 40-man call-ups but the last thing you want to do this year is be Captain Obvious to guys who get it already.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.