Alex Rodriguez’s rehab from a fractured left hand has so far included throwing a football in the outfield, making throws from third base that test his agility and range and hitting in a batting cage.
Four hours before Tuesday’s game, he added live batting practice to his rehab routine.
Facing live pitching for the first time since getting injured in Seattle on July 24, Rodriguez took three rounds of approximately 15 swings apiece.
During those rounds, he hit four home runs while spraying line drives to all parts of the outfield and having a few fly balls bounce off the fence. After each round he consulted with hitting coach Kevin Long and third base coach Rob Thomson.
“Good, so far so good, another good hurdle [cleared],” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he does not have a target date to return, but doctors have assured the third baseman his hand is healing well.
“You just have to think big picture,” he said. “When I come back I want to come back at full strength. I’m a force in the middle of this lineup and I want to help this team win and hopefully give us a shot in the arm.”
Also encouraging for Rodriguez is that he feels his legs are coming back under him due to all the other activities being done in workouts.
“Not yet, but I think my legs are coming under me,” Rodriguez said. “I see light at the end of the tunnel. My expectation is to come back, come back full strength and help this team win.
“I’ve been able to do a lot more with my legs. Hitting is all legs and I can do a lot of running and stay in better shape.”
A likely return date for Rodriguez barring any setbacks would be sometime in the middle of September. That could mean Rodriguez could appear in at least one minor league rehab game.
This is the third straight season Rodriguez has been on the disabled list heading into the start of September.
Last year, he was sidelined following knee surgery and when he returned, Rodriguez injured his thumb and batted .196 the rest of the season and went 2-for-18 in the playoffs.
“You can say it’s a similar situation, but you have to remember he hurt his thumb right when he came back,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I don’t want him to hurt his thumb this year. I think when he’s healthy he’s going to be fine. But when he hurt that thumb to me he never recovered from that completely.”
Two years ago, Rodriguez missed two weeks with a calf injury. When he returned, he batted .294 the rest of the way.
Status quo for Teixeira
Mark Teixeira’s Grade 1 left calf strain remained the same less than 24 hours after fouling a ball off his leg.
So far, there are no plans to place him on the disabled list, especially since rosters can be expanded on Saturday. That could change if someone else gets hurt, forcing the Yankees to play shorthanded two players without a move.
“I hope not,” Teixeira said of going to the DL. “I talked to [Brian Cashman]. Obviously it’s up to Cash and the team because God forbid if someone else goes down; we’re playing two men short. We’ve played a man short a few times this year and you can get through it, especially with some of the versatility our guys have.”
So far it is too early for Teixeira to participate in any baseball activities. Before doing so, he will consult with trainer Steve Donahue and strength and conditioning coach Dana Cavlea.
One thing that is a certainty for Teixeira is that the injury is not as bad as Derek Jeter. Jeter missed nearly a month in the weeks leading up to his 3,000th hit last July, but Teixeira was told by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad that his was not as severe.
“You can have the same injury,” Teixeira said. “One person’s pull is a week and another’s is a month and that’s just the way it is.”
Tuesday was the 10th game Teixeira missed this year. That is his most since 2007 when he appeared in a combined 122 games for Texas and Atlanta.
Pearce officially joins Yankees
Steve Pearce spent Monday in Houston as part of an off-day with the Astros, who had just flown back from playing the Mets. Then he found out he was coming back to New York to offer bench help against left-handed pitching.
Pearce made his arrival before Tuesday’s game and discovered that he was hitting cleanup as the team’s designated hitter. The newest Yankee became the 15th player to start at DH this season and the seventh different cleanup hitter.
“His specialty is supposed to be left-handers,” Girardi said. “Instead of juggling the first three guys let’s get him as many times as we can.”
Though he frequently batted in the middle of the order for Triple-A Scranton, Pearce has limited experience batting cleanup. He was 4-for-11 this year and is 4-for-19 in his six-year career.
Pearce returned to the Yankees after using the opt-out clause in his contract in June. He split the previous two months with the Orioles and Astros, but was glad to reach his intended destination after signing with the Yankees in the offseason.
“I wanted to come up through the Yankees’ organization, but it was a numbers thing,” Pearce said. “I had to move on. When you join an organization, you don’t want to stay in Triple-A the whole year. This is definitely what I envisioned and I’m really excited to be here.”
To get Pearce on to the roster, infielder Casey McGehee was optioned to Single-A Charleston. The reasoning for sending him there is that the Riverdogs are not a playoff team and recalling him when rosters expand will take less time.
Flat ground for Pettitte
Monday marked the two-month anniversary of Andy Pettitte fracturing his left ankle and Tuesday he continued recovering by throwing off flat ground.
In three sessions, Pettitte threw 20 pitches apiece. In his final session, he threw approximately 10 to 12 pitches using his normal windup.
“He actually looked really good,” Girardi said. “Our hope is it’s a mound [and] a bullpen. We’ll have to see how he feels in the next couple of days.”
The next step could be a bullpen session. That would likely take place sometime this weekend.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.