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A-Rod makes strides as rehab stint ends

Third baseman walks four times, scores a run in final game with Double-A Trenton

TRENTON, N.J. -- For every bit as compelling as the start to Alex Rodriguez's latest rehab stint at Double-A Trenton was Friday -- complete with a sellout crowd, an overflowing press box and punctuated with a home run -- his follow up on Saturday was that much more subdued.

There was once again a sellout crowd, but the media horde was significantly smaller for his second game with Trenton.

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On the field, Rodriguez walked in all four of his plate appearances and scored a run, making contact just twice in 24 pitches.

"I felt great," the third baseman said after Trenton's 7-5 win over Double-A Reading at Arm & Hammer Park. "It was great to see a lot of pitches. Back-to-back days felt pretty good. ... I'm ready to go."

A-Rod finished his brief rehab stint with the Thunder 1-for-2 with a two-run home run, five walks and two runs scored.

Rodriguez said his plan is to do a workout on Sunday -- a Yankees spokesman did not disclose when or where -- and fly to Chicago to join New York when it faces the White Sox on Monday.

But by Monday, Major League Baseball is expected to suspend Rodriguez through at least next season, with the possibility of a lifetime ban lingering, as the league addresses the alleged involvement of certain players with the South Florida Biogenesis clinic. Reports surfaced on late Saturday afternoon that negotiations between Rodriguez and MLB about the length of the suspension have been cut off.

Still, A-Rod said he expects to be in the Yankees' lineup on Monday and that he will fly to Chicago on Sunday even if a ruling comes down.

Trenton manager Tony Franklin was a bit uncertain as to whether Rodriguez was ready for Major League play yet. Before the game, he said he was impressed with A-Rod's progress, but noted that the game speed at the highest level is tough to adjust to.

Rodriguez played seven innings after playing five on Friday. The third baseman was with the Thunder less than three weeks ago, and even in that brief time, Franklin saw a difference. He said A-Rod was "running more fluidly" and that his bat has improved.

"His swing looks like it's got less rust on it," Franklin said.

Still, Franklin said he didn't hear from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman or anyone in the front office after Friday's game. The trainers asked for the manager's thoughts, and he thought Rodriguez looked good, "but if you're asking if I got a call from Cash or anyone in New York," Franklin said when asked before the game, "that I didn't."

Other than A-Rod's monster home run on Friday, though, the on-field product lagged behind the hype in the ballpark. Another sellout crowd -- Saturday's 8,113 fans topped Friday's 8,080 -- filed into Arm & Hammer Park starting at 5 p.m. ET, an hour earlier than gates typically open.

The circus atmosphere is something different for Double-A ballplayers. Franklin said it's an exciting opportunity for players -- and the manager -- to deal with similar crowds that they would see in the Majors.

Franklin managed Double-A Birmingham during a four-game Bo Jackson cameo and during Michael Jordan's ill-fated baseball endeavor. The two games A-Rod played in Trenton join in that company.

"This is right there," Franklin said. "Right at the top."

David Wilson is an associate reporter for

New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez