MOOSIC — First it was “The Captain,” now it’s A-Rod.
The New York Yankees’ local affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, have announced that Alex Rodriguez will be on a rehab assignment at PNC Field starting with tonight’s game against the Louisville Bats. Team president Rob Crain said as of Wednesday night there were still tickets available.
Rodriguez, who has 647 career home runs in his 19-year Major League career — the most among active players and fifth all-time — has been out all season after hip surgery last year.
But he began playing in minor league games recently, including a stop with the Double-A Trenton Thunder on Monday and Tuesday at Reading. He went 2-for-7 in those games, with a two-run homer Monday and an RBI Tuesday. Prior to that he spent some time playing for the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs and Tampa Yankees.
Now he has been promoted to the Triple-A RailRiders for an assignment similar to the one Yankees’ captain Derek Jeter made earlier this month. Jeter, who played in Moosic from July 5-10 to sellout crowds, was summoned up to the big leagues and suffered a thigh injury in his first game back with the Yankees.
Crain, speaking from Reno, Nev., Wednesday, where he was set to watch the Triple-A All-Star game, said the parent club has not indicated how long Rodriguez will play in Moosic but said, like they did with Jeter, “we’ll take it one game at a time.”
He said attendance is likely to be at or close to capacity.
“When you have a rehab guy, you definitely push the needle. When you have a Hall of Fame rehab guy, it pushes the needle even further,” Crain said.
“This is the beauty of being the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees,” Crain said. “You get opportunities like this.”
Rodriguez’s time in a RailRiders jersey almost happened this past weekend when the team was in Buffalo for a series. But according to Associated Press, he turned down the assignment, telling the Yankees he was too worn down to go, a source familiar with the plans said.
Though Rodriguez has been off the field for much of the year, he’s not been out of the headlines. He met earlier this month in Tampa with Major League Baseball officials investigating the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.
His name is among those on a list of two dozen players being investigated and facing possible suspensions as part of the ongoing Biogenesis steroid clinic scandal.
This will be the second time Rodriguez has played in Moosic. The last time he was here, the team was named the Yankees and the stadium he played in has since been demolished. In August 2011, Rodriguez was sent to Moosic to rehab his injured right knee. He played two games in front of mid-week crowds of 9,328 and 10,408, both above capacity.