A-Rod could be back sooner than expected

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">New York Yankees&#39; Alex Rodriguez connects for his 600th career home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo&#47;Kathy Willens)</span></div>
April 29, 2009 9:52:06 PM PDT
Alex Rodriguez could rejoin the Yankees within 10 days, according to the doctor who operated on his hip on March 9. Dr. Marc Philippon watched the three-time AL MVP's on-field workout Wednesday at the Yankees minor league complex and said Rodriguez could return to the majors ahead of his May 15 target date.

"He's looking good. Looking awesome," Philippon said.

Rodriguez hit in a simulated game for the second consecutive day, facing minor leaguer pitchers Christian Garcia and Kai Liu, a left-hander from China the Yankees signed two years ago.

Rodriguez slid five times on a sliding mat for the second time, ran the bases and took 112 swings in regular batting practice.

Philippon said after watching Wednesday's session that "it's crystal clear" that Rodriguez will be strong when he returns to the Yankees.

The Yankees said Rodriguez will play in an extended spring training intrasquad game Thursday in Tampa, Fla.

"Are we starting to get excited? Yes," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday night in Detroit before the series finale against the Tigers. "He's taken several steps this week and not had any setbacks."

Also, Chien-Ming Wang was scheduled for a bullpen session Thursday and to pitch in an extended spring training game on Saturday.

Wang, on the disabled list due to weakness of the abductor muscles in his hips, may make three or more minor league starts.

"We're going to take it slow with him," Girardi said.

Wang continues to work out in a pool and also ran in the outfield without shoes to work on strength and flexibility in his feet. The right-hander missed the final 3½ months last season with a right foot injury.

Right-hander Ian Kennedy was evaluated Wednesday at New York Presbyterian Hospital and tests showed a spasm in his middle finger. He will be treated with medication and is to return to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where the team doesn't want him to throw until being reevaluated Monday in New York.

"As a diagnosis goes, that's as good as it gets," Girardi said. "When a guy can't feel his finger, the first thing you think is aneurysm."