MOOSIC, Pa. – With cameras flashing for every at-bat, A-Rod the minor leaguer moved closer to rejoining the New York Yankees.
His return to the big-league lineup, however, will have to wait.
Alex Rodriguez has ruled himself out for Thursday's opener of New York's four-game series at Minnesota. Rodriguez had surgery last month for a torn meniscus and needs at least another day to know if he can slide back into the cleanup spot.
"Offensively, I feel like I'm there," Rodriguez said Wednesday night. "The next day or two are the last final stages."
Rodriguez went 1 for 2 with an RBI and two walks in his final game for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He also made an error.
He added a jolt of star power to this minor-league town, attracting an announced total of 10,408, the largest crowd of the season. Rodriguez left the field to applause when he was lifted for a pinch runner after he lined an opposite-field, RBI single to right in the eighth inning.
Rodriguez said he would need to consult with Yankees manager Joe Girardi and members of the training staff before deciding if he could play Friday. He felt no pain, and was forceful and confident at the plate. His only complaint was his reaction time at third base. He had the aforementioned error, and another catchable ball scooted under his glove on a backhander.
"My eyes and body have got to get used to it again," Rodriguez said after the 3-2 loss to Durham.
In Kansas City, Girardi said Rodriguez may not even be activated off the disabled list on Thursday.
"Our plans right now are still to bring him to Minnesota (on Thursday) if everything goes OK," Girardi said before the Yankees played the Royals. "We may not activate him. We may have him just go through some things for a couple of days and wait a couple of days to activate him."
The three-time AL MVP is hitting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs this season. When A-Rod does rejoin the roster, he may be the designated hitter and not start right away at third base.
"That's something I'll definitely consider," Girardi said. "Let's get through tonight and get him to Minnesota tomorrow, and we're going to take a look at him."
Rodriguez showed no visible signs of discomfort, though he hustled out of a press conference for ice treatment.
Batting third, Rodriguez was in an 0-2 hole against Durham starter, and top Tampa Bay pitching prospect, Matt Moore before he worked a walk in the fourth. Rodriguez, who has 626 career homers, struck out looking against reliever Joe Bateman in the sixth.
He was the last player off the field during pregame warmups, and tossed a ball into the stands as he jogged into the dugout. He was cheered by a huge crowd in Yankees gear that had lined up outside PNC Field hours before the gates opened.
The thinned-out crowd applauded when he left the game after his single off Dane De La Rosa cut Durham's lead to 3-2 and concluded the scoring.
"I got a kick out of all the great reactions for any little move, no matter how small the move," Rodriguez said. "They were attentive to everything."
It wasn't all love for A-Rod. One fan yelled, "A-Rod, big poker game, my house," and a few others chanted for Yankees captain Derek Jeter.
Girardi said he would make a decision to activate A-Rod after watching the 36-year-old Rodriguez work out.
"Just watching him run, watching him move around and see what he says, how he feels," Girardi said.
The Yankees lost to the Royals, 5-4, but remained a half game ahead of Boston in the AL East because the Red Sox lost to the Rays, 4-0.
Despite the tight race, they'll be careful not to rush A-Rod, either way.
"A couple of days, if you rush it, could cost you a couple of weeks," Girardi said. "You can end up hurting something else. That's why we want to take a look at him with our own eyes tomorrow and see how far he is away and see if he's ready for tomorrow."
Girardi said Rodriguez told him earlier Wednesday he felt good, but was "tentative."
"And I don't think that's so abnormal," the manager said. "He ran probably 3½ weeks tentative. And you can kind of get used to running a certain way. He's been this way for probably the last eight weeks now. He has to get that out of his mind."
The rehabilitation game was Rodriguez's fourth, after playing two over the weekend in Dunedin, Fla., for the Single-A Tampa Yankees. He was the DH for two games vs. the Dunedin Blue Jays, and homered in his first at-bat on Friday night.
Rodriguez lined a single to right, before flying out to left, and popping up to second on Tuesday vs. Durham.
But with his time in the minors now over, Rodriguez has his eyes on the pinstripes.
"I miss those guys, I miss my teammates," he said. "It'll be good to get a day or two with my teammates, before we lace it up."
AP sports writer Doug Tucker contributed to this report in Kansas City, Mo.