CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — It’s no hits and no worries so far for Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.
The three-time AL MVP grounded out twice and turned a double play Wednesday night in the second game of his minor league rehab stint with Class-A Charleston.
Rodriguez, who is recovering from left hip surgery in January, also went hitless in his first game with the RiverDogs. But the third baseman, who turns 38 on July 27, isn’t panicking about his slow start — yet.
“I don’t mind if I save all my hits for New York,” he said with a grin.
Rodriguez plans to work out at Riley Park on Thursday before leaving for the Yankees’ spring training complex in Florida. He’ll play for the Yankees’ minor league team in Tampa on Friday.
He said Tuesday he likely would need each of the 20 allowed rehab games to get back in shape. It sure looked that way in his two nights in Charleston.
In his first game since a miserable October, he hit into a double play and struck out in two at-bats. Then he struggled against 19-year-old right-hander Mauricio Cabrera of Rome, an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.
Rodriguez swung at the first pitch he saw from Cabrera and grounded out to first. He found out when he got back to the dugout that Cabrera’s pitch was clocked at 101 mph.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It’s not very often you see 101.”
He came up again in the third and bounced to second, leaving him 0 for 4 in two games at Charleston. He did start an inning-ending double play in the top half of the third.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the first time in eight months I’ve gone out there back to back.”
The Rome Braves rallied for an 8-5 victory in 10 innings nearly three hours after Rodriguez left the game.
Rodriguez’s stay in Charleston was a success for the RiverDogs, who welcomed a crowd of 7,667 on Wednesday night after an announced attendance of 8,255 on Tuesday night.
Rodriguez signed autographs for the RiverDogs after he left Wednesday’s game, and then spent about 20 minutes signing for fans in the right-field stands. He had a playful exchange with 12-year-old Charlie Stephens in Charleston’s clubhouse, trading an autographed hat for the boy’s Astros cap before giving that to him as well.
“How’s that for a deal?” he said.
Rodriguez also posed for pictures with musician Darius Rucker. “I love this place,” Rodriguez said.
There’s a chance Rodriguez might return to Charleston on his rehab tour, but he’s unsure of his schedule past the next few days.
Joining Rodriguez on the RiverDogs was Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who played six innings in his second game back from a strained oblique. He followed up on a 2-for-3 performance Tuesday by going 0 for 2 with a walk.
Nunez was unsure of his rehab schedule.
Intermittent rain kept the tarp on the field for much of the day and prevented both clubs from taking batting practice or getting infield work.
RiverDogs manager Al Pedrique said Rodriguez met with the Charleston players earlier Wednesday to discuss baseball life and answer any questions from the young players.
“It’s great for the kids, they really had a blast,” Pedrique said. “It’s too bad he came out so early in the third inning.”
That was by design. Rodriguez said after Tuesday’s game he wanted to see how his body handled his first game action in nine months.
Pat Roessler, the director of player development for the Yankees, told Pedrique that Rodriguez felt fine Wednesday morning and was ready to go.
Rodriguez said he’s putting in the hard work to come back because he has “a responsibility to baseball.”
“That’s the way I’m wired,” he continued. “I obviously love the competition, I love the game. I know there are going to be a tremendous amount of naysayers out there and I look forward to going out there, playing well and contributing.”
Also Wednesday, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter moved one step closer to joining Rodriguez in minor league games by running the bases after putting the ball in play during his simulated at-bats.
Jeter had two singles, a double and three grounders against a pair of right-handers at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. Running the bases in the simulated situation is normally one of the final steps in preparation to play in rehab games.
The Yankees expect Jeter to rejoin the big league team after the All-Star break.
Jeter hasn’t played this season after breaking his left ankle in the opener of the AL championship series on Oct. 13. After surgery, the Yankees captain played just five spring training games because of soreness. A new break was discovered April 18.