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After playing two games here for Double-A Trenton, A-Rod’s move to Scranton puts him right on target to join a Yankees lineup that needs a lift. GM Brian Cashman has indicated that he would like to improve the club’s offense if possible before the trading deadline.

 

BY ROGER RUBIN / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

READING, Pa. — Alex Rodriguez begins his final push to rejoin the Yankees on Thursday when he starts at third base for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as it hosts Louisville. The slugger, out all season after a second hip surgery in January, will round out his 20-day minor league rehab assignment by playing four straight days with the RailRiders.

He said Wednesday he is optimistic that after that he can return to the big league club next Monday in Texas.

After playing two games here for Double-A Trenton, A-Rod’s move to Scranton puts him right on target to join a Yankees lineup that needs a lift. GM Brian Cashman has indicated that he would like to improve the club’s offense if possible before the trading deadline.

“It’s the plan that we talked about in Charleston (where the assignment began July 2 and 3) and we haven’t deviated, not even one setp with the exception of a little rain here and there,” Rodriguez said after batting practice, infield, weightlifting and sprints at FirstEnegry Stadium. “So we’re on schedule.”

Later A-Rod told Mike Francesa on WFAN radio: “Feels pretty good … going to play four (games) in Scranton and then hopefully strap it up.”

Rodriguez has played 10 games thus far and is 5-for-28 with a home run and six RBI. Asked about how he is looking to perform in this next stretch, he answered “I have no idea. I feel good though.”

He did not play in the Thunder’s game on Wednesday but felt it a good sign that he felt well enough that he could have after playing four games in the previous four days, the first time he’s done that.

“I’m encouraged that I feel like I can play and play well today,” A-Rod said. “So after playing four straight games, seven- or eight-plus innings (in each), and being able to play today if I had to, that’s a great sign.”

During at least one of the next four games, Rodriguez said he will be the RailRiders’ designated hitter.

Rodriguez wanted to prove to himself and the organization in this rehab assignment that he is capable of doing all the things that will be required if he is to return to the Yanks. He has driven in some runs, begun to hit for some power, beaten the goal of running from home to first in under 4.5 seconds, and played fairly good defense.

“I’d still like to see myself slide, breaking up a double play, but I think we’ve checked almost every box,” he said.

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