Yankees’ Rodriguez mum as suspension looms

TAMPA, Fla. — Alex Rodriguez didn’t stop to talk with reporters after his rehabilitation session at the team’s minor league complex, two days before Major League Baseball is likely to suspend the New York Yankees third baseman for his connection to a clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Coming back from January hip surgery and a late-July strained quadriceps, Rodriguez increased the intensity of his leg workout by taking on-field batting practice and running the bases at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

A-Rod felt tightness in the quad before the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre game on July 20. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he will play in a simulated game Thursday at the minor league complex.

Rodriguez could be sent to Double-A Trenton for a new rehab assignment on Friday. Scranton is on the road.

“Tomorrow’s simulated game is the first step in that process and then I just don’t want to get anything past tomorrow just because of the weather, but the plan would be for him to be in a rehab game on Friday,” Cashman said.

A suspension would prevent Rodriguez from playing in any major or minor league games unless the penalty is stayed.

New York has made the playoffs in 17 of the last 18 seasons but is fourth in the AL East, 8½ games behind division-leading Tampa Bay and 3½ games back of Baltimore for the last wild-card berth.

“You have to walk before you can run, and right now obviously we’re closer to the wild card than the division,” Cashman said. “So I didn’t say we can’t win the division, but right now if somebody says 8½, I’ll say 3½.”

While Rodriguez’s status is uncertain, outfielder Curtis Granderson could rejoin the Yankees for Friday’s series opener at San Diego. Granderson broke an arm in the Yankees’ spring training opener, returned May 14, then broke a pinkie on May 24.

“I think we’re shooting for Friday for an activation on Granderson. Hopefully Alex will be back shortly thereafter,” Cashman said.

He thinks there’s a chance third baseman Kevin Youkilis could return this season from a back injury but doesn’t expect catcher Francisco Cervelli to heal in time from elbow and finger injuries. Cervelli, also tied in media reports to the Biogenesis case, is to be examined Aug. 5 by Dr. James Andrews.

“It’s looking more and more like it’s going to be unrealistic to see Cervelli,” Cashman said.

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