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A-Rod goes deep in rehab game with Triple-A

Eager to help Yankees, third baseman sticks to timetable as return nears

MOOSIC, Pa. -- One powerful swing of the bat showed that Alex Rodriguez is nearing a return to the Yankees. Rodriguez continued his rehab Thursday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and hit a two-run homer in the third inning.

Rodriguez started at third base and batted second for the RailRiders. He received loud applause upon his first at-bat and a standing ovation following his home run. He nearly had a two-homer night as he scalded a Chad Reineke pitch to deep right field on the first pitch he saw in the first inning, but it fell short and was caught on the warning track.

He slammed a third-inning fastball from Reineke over the right-center field fence to give him his second homer during his rehab assignment.

"That [swing] felt good," Rodriguez said. "Anytime I can get the ball up in the air, especially center to right-center field, that's a good sign."

Rodriguez went 1-for-4, but he went the opposite way all three times he made contact -- an encouraging sign. In addition to his flyout to right field in the first, he hit a hard grounder to first base in the bottom of the sixth.

"I don't want rollers to short or third base, that's a bad sign," said Rodriguez. "Anytime I get the ball in the air, that's what I've worked so hard for over the last five or six years with [Yankees hitting coach] Kevin Long."

Despite his eagerness to help the Yankees, Rodriguez stressed he wasn't quite ready to make his return to New York. He is expected to continue his rehab through the weekend before joining the club Monday in Texas.

"I'm excited, but we can't get ahead of ourselves," said Rodriguez. "We still have another big challenge, which is the last three days, and I just want to make sure I stay focused and continue to take one pitch at a time."

Rodriguez didn't see any significant chances at third base.

Rodriguez sees his improvement at the plate, but recognizes that his body still isn't quite ready for the Major League grind, and perhaps he hasn't seen quite the number of game situations he would like to.

"I haven't played in a long time, and it's a very difficult game," said Rodriguez. "Over the last four or five days, I've showed signs of finding my swing. Overall, I feel better, and I just want to keep getting more athletic every day.

"I'm close to 38 now, I'm just trying to get a little more conservative. I think the 20 days was good for me, because I knew that there was a timetable and I couldn't rush, and I think that's important in a process like this."

Andrew Kappes is a contributor to
Read More: New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez