What Alex Rodriguez Must Show Yankees in Rehab Assignment to Prove He's Ready
Rodriguez is slated to play at least three innings defensively at third base as he comes back from hip surgery, starting the 20-day clock on his rehab stint. Presumably he won’t be giving many updates on his rehab assignment via Twitter.
While thousands of New York Yankees fans wait in eager anticipation of his return, there is still a lot A-Rod must prove before he's considered ready to return to the Bronx.
With his 20-day clock starting, what does Rodriguez have to show the Yankees over the next three weeks?
Alex Rodriguez is coming back soon. He will play third base and join the team in Class A Charleston to begin his rehab assignment. #nyy— The Stirring Straw (@StirringStraw) July 1, 2013
That He Can Actually Hit
Injury aside, the Yankees want to see Rodriguez hit the ball...something he struggled to do at the end of last year.
Over the course of the last three weeks of the regular season, Rodriguez batted .247 with one home run, seven RBI and 26 strikeouts.
Then, in the playoffs, Rodriguez batted .120 with 12 strikeouts.
He was benched because of his poor play, and it hasn't been pretty between Rodriguez and the Yankees ever since.
For New York, having A-Rod be able to hit would be huge. Currently, third basemen are batting .231 with four home runs, 23 RBI and 27 runs scored for the Yankees.
Any kind of improvement the Yankees can get is something they'll take.
While most don't think a player's maturity level has anything to do with his ability to play, we've seen Rodriguez's maturity affect his play.
It was reported last year by Yahoo! Sports that Rodriguez was flirting with a fan after being taken out for a pinch hitter during Game 1 of the ALCS.
Rodriguez was out of the game, but there's no excuse for his antics.
A true professional would have been ticked off that he was taken out of the game and tried to figure out how to get back into his manager's good graces.
Instead, it seemed A-Rod only cared about who he was going to hook up with after the game.
While I don't expect to see Rodriguez flirting with any fans during his minor league rehab assignment, general manager Brian Cashman will watch how he interacts with teammates.
Is he just going to do his thing and stay away from the younger players? Or is he going to help his teammates, pointing out things they may not see?
The Yankees want to see leadership out of Rodriguez, especially considering all of the injuries the big league team is having to deal with.
If he can make a difference (even if it's a small one) with minor league players, he could possibly make a difference in the big leagues.
Which A-Rod will return to the Yankees?
Health is the biggest factor for Rodriguez to return.
When he had surgery back in January, it was thought that he would be out until the All-Star break, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.
"I like to tell people six months is a reasonable time frame for return to play when we're doing the procedure we're discussing with a bone correction," (Dr. Bryan) Kelly said before the procedure. "Optimistically speaking, what we're hoping for is for him to be able to return after the All-Star break."
It is the time frame the Yankees planned for Rodriguez to be back, but they're not going to call him up to the big leagues if he's not fully healthy.
The Yankees are going to want to see him play a full game before making any kind of decision on him.
Regardless of how New York fans feel about A-Rod, it's obvious the team could benefit from his return.
The only question is, which A-Rod will they get? Will they get the 2009 postseason hero or the 2012 postseason dud?
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