Alex Rodriguez is confident he will return to the New York Yankees Monday, but is also aware his career could be impacted by Major League Baseball's investigation into Biogenesis.
"Of course it concerns me," Rodriguez said in a telephone interview with Newsday when asked about the investigation. "But there's a process, and when the time is right I'll be able to discuss it further."
MLB's probe could link Rodriguez and other high-profile players to a now closed anti-aging clinic in Miami that is alleged to have provided them with performance-enhancing drugs. Lengthy suspensions could be handed out to those involved.
"The investigation remains active and ongoing," an MLB representative said of the overall probe.
Rodriguez was anxious to discuss the progress he has made after 10 months of rehabbing his surgically repaired left hip, including his 20-day rehabilitation stint through the minors. Rodriguez and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday the next stop would be four games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starting Thursday.
Cashman said the hope is for Rodriguez to return Monday for the start of a four-game series in Texas against the Rangers. Rodriguez echoed that.
"Assuming no setback, I'm just excited about Monday and rejoining the team," he said. "I'm hoping that I can give them a shot in the arm.
"Not only that, I might come in at a similar time with the captain," he said in reference to Derek Jeter, who is nursing a quadriceps injury.
Rodriguez said he and Jeter enjoyed rehabbing together in Florida. A-Rod said his relationship with Jeter, strained at the beginning of his career with the Yankees, is strong.
"I think we spent quality time together on the rehab and I think we both have mutual respect for each other," he said. "I can't wait to be back on the field with him to help us win, both in the leadership side and hopefully on the production side."
Rodriguez said he has been in touch with most of his teammates during his absence. He would not discuss any issues he may have had with management, saying, "I don't want to get into the divide. What I can tell you is that the support from my teammates has been awesome. They have reached out consistently since this process started. I have been in touch with most of my teammates, coaches and manager included.
"The feel you get out there is that I'm a stranger, far removed from people. I'm very connected to my team. Their support has fueled me to get back as soon as possible and help the team win."
Asked again about some of the jabs he took from management -- the word disappointment was used by members of the organization -- Rodriguez said, "This stuff that I'm going through physically, I just have enough focus and attention to put all of it on that."
Rodriguez said he never considered retirement or seeking permanent disability.
"The focus all along, have the surgery, go through the rehab," he said. "It has been a monster rehab. Been some good days, some bad days. For the most part, the last six to eight days I think I've seen the light at the end of the tunnel. My body is reacting well. I'm starting to drive the ball with some authority.
"What I want to do ultimately is get back on the field and give our fan base my 'A' game. They obviously didn't get that last year. I'm just so excited to get back in the uniform, put the pinstripes on and play like a 10-year-old. The game has been taken away from me for 10 months, and that's the first time that's ever happened in my life."
Rodriguez had a morning workout Wednesday in Reading and did not play in Double-A Trenton's afternoon game. He took batting practice, spraying a series of liners and smacking several long drives. He also looked comfortable and smooth in the field when he took ground balls.
In two games with Trenton, A-Rod was 2-for-7 with a two-run home run, a single and three RBIs. Overall, he is hitting .188 (5-for-28) with a homer, six RBIs and seven strikeouts in 10 rehab games.
"I'm excited for the next step,'' Rodriguez said. "I feel good. I don't have any idea on what to expect from the next step, but I'm ready and confident to go.''
(With Jeff Moeller in Reading, Pa., and Erik Boland. Contact Steven Marcus at firstname.lastname@example.org.)