By MARK DIDTLER
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Alex Rodriguez played in a simulated game Thursday, probably the last step before the New York Yankees send him on a second minor league injury rehabilitation assignment _ if he’s not suspended first.
Because of wet grounds, the Yankees moved Rodriguez’s simulated game from their minor league complex across the Dale Mabry highway to Steinbrenner Field, the team’s spring training home.
The ballpark was closed to media, who watched from a walkway behind the right-field bullpen. Rodriguez had several at-bats, played third and ran bases during the simulated game. About two dozen media members and five television trucks were on hand _ but no fans.
Coming back from January hip surgery, Rodriguez was .200 (8 for 40) with two homers and eight RBIs in 13 minor league games from July 2-20 for Class A Tampa and Charleston (S.C.), Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The assignment was cut a day short when he complained of quadriceps tightness, and the Yankees said an MRI in New York on July 21 showed a grade 1 strain.
Rodriguez pushed to be activated later that week, retaining a doctor without giving the Yankees the required notification, and the physician claimed he couldn’t detect an injury. During a conference call with Yankees officials on July 25 _ Rodriguez insisted one of his lawyers be on the call _ the sides agreed to a schedule for his return.
New York was expected to assign A-Rod to Trenton for Friday night’s game against Reading. While he would be in position to return to the major leagues later in the weekend at San Diego or during a series at the Chicago White Sox that starts Monday, it appears Major League Baseball will suspend the three-time MVP in coming days for ties to Biogenesis of America, a closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Four years ago Rodriguez admitted using PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03, but he repeatedly has denied using them since.
He appeared ready to talk as he was leaving the minor league complex, waving a group of writers to his car in the parking lot and rolling down the window. However, when A-Rod saw a second group with TV cameras approaching, he said “I’ll talk to you guys, but no cameras.”
Rodriguez closed the window and kept the car stationary for a moment, then left without saying another word to reporters.