To play, or not to play, that is the question for New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is expected to be activated off the disabled list in time for Monday's opener of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The slugger hasn't played this season because of offseason hip surgery and a quadriceps strain, and just completed a rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Trenton.
The drama surrounding Rodriguez's return has been marred by reports that he will be suspended the rest of this season and all of 2014 due to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. The allegations became a reality Monday after the league disciplined Rodriguez and 12 other players for violating the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement.
A-Rod's suspension will become effective Thursday, Aug. 8. Rodriguez was penalized for his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited PEDs, attempting to cover-up his violations and obstructing MLB's investigation.
Rodriguez, who is slated to start against the White Sox, will reportedly be able to take the field if he opts to appeal the suspension for being involved with Biogenesis of America, a Miami-area based anti-aging clinic suspected of distributing performance-enhancing substances.
Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and minor league outfielder Fernando Martinez were also suspended by MLB.
The Yankees could use A-Rod's power in a lineup that has seen better days. They just dropped two of three contests at San Diego this weekend and suffered a 6-3 setback Sunday afternoon. Phil Hughes struggled in his 2 2/3-inning outing and allowed five runs and six hits to take the loss, New York's 11th in the past 17 tries.
Austin Romine homered and both Curtis Granderson and Lyle Overbay added an RBI for the Yankees, who are 4 1/2 games off a wild card spot and 2-3 on an eight- game road trip.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has missed the last two games because of a right calf injury and could land on the DL again. Jeter has played just five games this season and traveled with the club to Chicago.
"It's been terrible. It's been like a nightmare," Jeter told the club's website Sunday. "The whole season has been a nightmare. I really don't know what to tell you; I wish that wasn't the case and we were sitting here talking about something besides another injury. We'll see what happens. I have no idea."
Andy Pettitte taking the mound for the Yanks Monday night is certain and the veteran left-hander is 0-2 in his last three appearances. Pettitte did not receive a decision in Tuesday's 3-2 loss at Dodger Stadium, where he tossed seven innings of two-run ball and remained 7-8 in 19 starts with a 4.28 earned run average.
Pettitte is 4-4 in 10 road assignments this season and 11-9 with a 4.41 ERA in 24 career starts against the White Sox.
The White Sox are mired in a season-high 10-game losing streak and lost all seven games on their recent road trip. They have been swept in three straight series, including a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers this weekend.
Chicago tried to end its losing ways on Sunday, but sustained a 3-2 loss in 12 innings. Torii Hunter's RBI single in the bottom of the 12th won it for the Tigers and handed the White Sox their first 10-game slide since June 11-20, 1976.
"We're just trying to get through and you just try to do the best you can at the moments that you're in there playing," White Sox veteran Paul Konerko said of his team's struggles. "There's not a lot of positives."
Konerko homered and Adam Dunn went 4-for-5 with a home run in defeat. Dylan Axelrod was dealt the loss for his performance in the 12th inning and White Sox starter Andre Rienzo allowed two runs in six innings.
Set to take the mound for Chicago in the opener of a 10-game homestand Monday is lefty Jose Quintana. Quintana did not factor in the outcome of a 6-5 loss at Cleveland on Wednesday and was reached for three runs in five innings. He is 5-3 in 22 starts to go along with a 3.62 ERA and won his only career start against the Yankees last June 29 in a 14-7 win in the Bronx. Quintana allowed six runs in six innings in that one.
The Pale Hose last won on July 25 and are meeting the Yankees for the first time since winning five of seven matchups a season ago. Chicago swept a three- game set in this series at home last Aug. 20-22.