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A-Rod heads to Chicago, plans to play Monday

SAN DIEGO -- Alex Rodriguez says that he is flying to Chicago on Sunday to join the Yankees, and manager Joe Girardi said that he has "penciled" the embattled slugger into the lineup he is formulating in his mind for Monday's game against the White Sox.

"I think all of us are curious what's going to happen and if Alex is going to be a player for us tomorrow, and what's going to happen with the other guys that are involved in this," Girardi said. "Because in my mind, I have him penciled in here tomorrow."

Major League Baseball is poised to suspend Rodriguez through the 2014 season, according to multiple reports, but Rodriguez is then expected to file an appeal that would permit him to take the field for his first game of the season on Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.

Rodriguez's appeal would be heard within the next three weeks by arbitrator Frederic Horowitz, according to USA Today, but there is no prescribed timetable for Horowitz to hand down a decision.

Thus, it is possible that Rodriguez could continue to appear in the Yankees' lineup for an extended period while his appeal process plays out.

"There are so many rumors that are going around about it, I don't know if anyone really knows what's happening," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "But he's our teammate. If he's here tomorrow, we'll look forward to seeing him."

Girardi said that he exchanged text messages with Rodriguez after he played on Saturday for Double-A Trenton, and sensed Rodriguez is "anxious" to play in the big leagues.

Rodriguez walked four times in the contest, his 15th Minor League game of the year, and said he'd fly to Chicago following a workout on Sunday.

"I talked to him yesterday, joked with him -- he didn't get any pitches to hit yesterday," Girardi said. "[I told him], 'Don't wear yourself out today and I'll see you tomorrow.'"

Girardi said that he has been proceeding as though Rodriguez will play in the big leagues, and has not made an effort to closely track coverage of MLB's investigation since he does not have input on the decision-making process.

"It hasn't really occupied my mind like maybe some other things have," Girardi said. "I think all of us have known that possibly something could be coming for a lot of different players. You deal with it when you have to deal with it. It's kind of like most of the things I've done around here."

The Yankees, who ranked 13th among the 15 American League teams with 417 runs scored entering play on Sunday, have been searching for offensive help. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said that he expects Rodriguez to be welcomed in the clubhouse.

"We're all going to be happy, I would say, to see him back in the lineup -- especially the way we've been playing," Cano said. "We've been waiting for this moment to see him back in the lineup. You know what, come up and help us to win some games."

Rodriguez last played for the Yankees on Oct. 18, 2012, in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, and he will be joining a roster that has undergone plenty of turnover in his absence.

"[It'll be] a bit of a circus, I'm sure," Yankees outfielder Vernon Wells said. "I think Alex will do his best to keep as much of it out of the clubhouse as he can, and what he has control over.

"I think the good thing is everyone knows the situation, knows what it could potentially be like, what the atmosphere's going to be like, so there's not fear of the unknown. I think we all have a pretty good idea, and we'll be ready for it."

Girardi said that he does not think it will create an uncomfortable atmosphere if Rodriguez joins the Yankees in Chicago, saying that there will be more media coverage than usual but that it will be centered upon Rodriguez rather than the rest of the team.

"I don't suspect it'll be awkward," Girardi said. "Most of the guys know him as a teammate and have laughed a lot with Alex and been around Alex a lot. I think it'll be business as usual."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
Read More: New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez