NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez took live batting practice prior to New York's game against the Blue Jays on Tuesday for the first time since fracturing his left hand, and he plans to do so again Wednesday. Rodriguez sprayed balls across the outfield and called it a "good hurdle" after also fielding ground balls and running the bases.
Rodriguez and the Yankees would like the third baseman, who fractured his left hand July 24, to go on a rehab assignment before they activate him from the disabled list. The regular seasons for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton end Monday, but each team will play in the postseason, providing more opportunities for Rodriguez to face live pitching before his September return.
"Our thought process is, let's get through these next couple days -- today, tomorrow -- and let's see where he's at," said manager Joe Girardi. "Today's the first day he really took BP on the field, so let's see how he feels tomorrow before we start trying to predict where he's going to be. But our hope is it's not too far off."
Rodriguez said he wants to make sure he is "a force in the middle of the lineup" upon his return after hitting .319 (15-for-47) in 12 games between the All-Star break and taking a Felix Hernandez changeup off his hand. He missed time late in the season last year with a knee injury and returned to hit .174 (15-for-86) between the regular season and playoffs, but expects better results this season since he was able to keep his legs in better shape while his hand healed.
Girardi also pointed to a thumb injury that Rodriguez suffered immediately after his return last year to account for Rodriguez's struggles.
"You can say it's a similar situation, but you have to remember he hurt his thumb right when he came back. My plan is I don't want him to hurt his thumb this year," Girardi said. "I think if he's healthy, he's going to be fine."
Rodriguez said he felt some soreness taking live swings, but was assured by doctors that his hand is healing well and he can proceed in his rehab. Still, he wants to take a cautious approach, pointing to other American League sluggers, such as Jose Bautista and David Ortiz, who came back from injuries only to quickly return to the disabled list.
"I think my legs are coming under me and I see light at the end of the tunnel," Rodriguez said. "My expectation is to come back full strength and help this team win."
Credit Rivera with an assist on Soriano's save
NEW YORK -- Rafael Soriano picked up his 34th save of the season in the Yankees' 2-1 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday, but Mariano Rivera should probably be credited with an assist.
Rivera took Soriano aside in the home Yankee Stadium clubhouse on Tuesday and gave the right-hander something to think about, quizzing him about the pitch selection that resulted in Colby Rasmus' three-run homer in the Bombers' 9-8 loss to Toronto on Monday.
"Mariano came to me and said, 'Hey, go throw your fastball,'" Soriano said. "Tonight, you can do whatever you want, but don't throw too many sliders. Your best pitch right now [is the] fastball."
Soriano agreed, backed off on the sliders and pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts.
"It was as good of stuff as I've seen him have this year," manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought his fastball was exceptional, and his slider, as well. It's hard when you're a closer and you do your job 95 percent of the time, but it doesn't make it easier that five percent. He did a good job tonight."
Rivera also reminded Soriano of a closer's duties with the media. Last season, Soriano skipped out after blowing a save and had to deal with the resulting headlines; on Monday, Soriano said that he didn't see any reporters who wanted to talk to him, but Rivera didn't accept that.
"He said, 'Hey, what did I tell you last year, man? You've got to talk to these guys,'" Soriano said. "I say, 'All right, bro. I know you told me last year.'"
Yankees catcher Russell Martin said the exchange is just another example of how valuable Rivera can be to the team, even as he is most likely out for the season rehabbing the right ACL he injured in May.
"He's talked to Dave Robertson a little bit before, too," Martin said. "When he has something to say, you listen. He knows what he's doing and he's been doing it for a while. For me, it's kind of like when Derek [Jeter] comes and talks to me about hitting. You've got to be all ears. I wish he would've been right behind me yesterday so I would have done it differently."
Teixeira hopeful he's out no more than a week
NEW YORK -- The calendar will allow Mark Teixeira to avoid the disabled list, but the Yankees are still expecting to be without their switch-hitting first baseman for at least a week.
Teixeira suffered a Grade 1 strain of his left calf in Monday's 8-7 loss to the Blue Jays, and manager Joe Girardi said that the team can keep him on the active roster, which will expand to 40 players on Sept. 1.
"I'll be really happy if we get him back in a week," Girardi said. "If this was not right around Sept. 1, I'm not so sure we wouldn't have DL'd him. Our thought is it's anywhere from seven or eight to 15 days, and if we DL him now, it's a guaranteed 15 days where he might have been ready."
Derek Jeter lost that argument last June when he suffered a Grade 1 calf strain, and the shortstop wound up delaying his pursuit of the 3,000-hit milestone by three weeks.
But Girardi said that, in Teixeira's case, they're looking at playing with a short bench for just three games.
"Our feeling is, we'll take that chance," Girardi said.
Teixeira believes he can beat Jeter's timetable, saying that he has been told his strain is not as severe as the captain's was.
"I'm hoping it's a week," Teixeira said. "It might be as much as two. I'm going to be as optimistic as I can. You guys know me. I'm a very positive person. I'm just going to really try to be positive here and hopefully I'll be back as soon as possible."
Pearce gets inserted into cleanup slot vs. lefty
NEW YORK -- It came after nearly three months and stints with two other organizations, but Steve Pearce stood at his locker in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, finally where he expected to be this season.
The Yankees added Pearce to their 25-man roster a day after acquiring him from Houston for cash considerations, and immediately inserted him into the lineup against Toronto, hitting cleanup as the designated hitter. Pearce rejoins the Yankees after beginning the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, then playing in the big leagues for Baltimore and Houston after opting out of his Minor League contract with the Yankees.
New York optioned third baseman Casey McGehee to Class A Charleston to make room on the roster. Charleston's regular season ends Monday, the same day as New York's Triple-A and Double-A affiliates, but unlike the latter two teams, Charleston will not make the postseason. Sending McGehee, who hit .186 in 13 games with New York, to Charleston allows him to return to New York quicker as a September callup.
"It feels great," Pearce said. "It's been a wild year. It's been exciting at the same time. Coming in here, I'm excited and couldn't ask for anything more."
The 29-year-old opted out of his contract with the Yankees after hitting .318 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs at Triple-A, believing he could find a home in the Major Leagues. Baltimore acquired him for cash before designating him for assignment, then the Astros picked him up. He hit .254 with eight doubles, a triple and three home runs in 49 Major League games between the two clubs this season.
The right-handed hitter batted .275 with each of his three home runs against left-handed pitchers, prompting manager Joe Girardi to insert him into the heart of his order against Toronto lefty Ricky Romero.
"His specialty is supposed to be left-handers," Girardi said. "Instead of juggling the first three guys [in the lineup] and moving them around, they've been swinging the bat well, so let's get him up as many times as we can."
Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte threw three sessions of 20 pitches off flat ground on Tuesday, going into his normal windup for the last 10 or 12 pitches, according to Girardi, who said Pettitte "actually looked really good."
The Yankees are hoping to have Pettitte throw off a mound in the bullpen on Friday or Saturday.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley has been named the International League's 2012 Manager of the Year. Miley also won the award in 2007.
Uganda's 2012 Little League World Series team, the first team from Africa to participate in the LLWS, will be guests of the Yankees for Thursday's game. The team will be on the field for Yankees batting practice and participate in roll call from Section 203 in the first inning.
On this date in 1977, Ron Guidry celebrated his 27th birthday with his third shutout of the season, logging a 1-0 victory over the Rangers. He faced just one batter over the minimum, allowing two hits. Graig Nettles tripled and scored on a Reggie Jackson single for the game's only run.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.