MLB notebook: Rodriguez homers in rehab game
A seemingly relaxed Alex Rodriguez rejoined the New York Yankees' Double-A farm team Friday for what might be his final games before a lengthy suspension from Major League Baseball.
The 38-year-old third baseman smiled a lot, met his temporary teammates on the Trenton Thunder and shook hands with coaches after stepping on the field at 4:13 p.m.
He did not field questions from a massive media contingent before taking batting practice, throwing and fielding ground balls in a 30-minute preparation for the game against Reading.
“I don't think there's any distraction,” Thunder manager Tony Franklin said of Rodriquez, who batted second and played third base. “Our guys understand the circumstances around this. It's all about baseball for our guys. One thing about baseball players is when the game starts they have a unique ability to separate what's on the field from what's off the field.”
It was hard not to notice Rodriguez's every step. Cameramen and reporters stared at him, and they looked over his shoulder as he signed autographs 20 minutes before the first pitch.
In the third inning, A-Rod launched a long home run to left field off a 2-0 pitch from Jesse Biddle. Biddle had been working in the low 90s. After hitting the ball, A-Rod admired it for a while and then flipped the bat away before beginning his trip around the bases.
The three-time American League MVP, coming back from January hip surgery, is starting a second minor league injury rehabilitation assignment, this time for a strained quadriceps.
Having him join New York for Sunday's series finale in San Diego seems unlikely, making Monday's series opener at the Chicago White Sox a more probable target.
But he may be suspended by then for his relationship with Biogenesis of America, an anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Braun loses endorsement
Following his 65-game suspension for performance-enhancing drug use, Nike has terminated its relationship with Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, according to ESPN.
A spokesperson for the world's largest shoe and apparel maker confirmed it has cut ties with the 2011 NL MVP.
Tigers release offender
The Tigers released right-hander Cesar Carrillo after he served a 100-games suspension for violating baseball's minor league drug program.
Carrillo's name was included in a Miami New Times report earlier this year, when the alternative weekly newspaper said it acquired records from Biogenesis.
Carrillo served his suspension and was given his unconditional release.
Zito to skip start
Struggling Giants left-hander Barry Zito will not make his next scheduled start Sunday at Tampa Bay.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said right-hander Guillermo Moscoso will take Zito's spot.
Zito is 4-8 with a 5.09 ERA in 21 starts this season, allowing 141 hits over 1111⁄3 innings. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner is 0-7 with a 9.97 ERA on the road.
Mets bullpen ailing
The Mets are missing two key cogs in their bullpen, closer Bobby Parnell and setup man Josh Edgin, who are out as New York opened a series against the Royals on Friday.
Parnell wasn't available for Friday night's opener, and his status for the weekend is unknown as he deals with a stiff neck. David Aardsma is expected to handle closing.
Second baseman Brian Roberts was put on the paternity leave list by the Orioles as he awaits the birth of his first child. ... The Rangers claimed infielder Adam Rosales off waivers from the Athletics.
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