Rodriguez wants to play Friday, but Yanks say he's not yet ready

Alex Rodriguez says he is ready to play, but the New York Yankees said not so fast.

A day after getting a bizarre second opinion on his strained left quad muscle, Rodriguez issued a statement through a publicist and said he wants to play Friday when the Yankees open a three-game series against Tampa Bay in the Bronx.

"I think the Yanks and I crossed signals," said Rodriguez on Thursday in a statement. "I don't want any more mix ups. I'm excited and ready to play and help this team win a championship. I feel great and I'm ready and want to be in the lineup Friday night. Enough doctors, let's play."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman held a conference call Thursday after Rodriguez was evaluated in Tampa and said the third baseman's quad injury has improved. Cashman, however, said the Yankees hope Rodriguez can begin simulated games or another rehab assignment by Aug. 1.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said during his media briefing before Thursday's game against the Texas Rangers that he wasn't sure when A-Rod would be available, but didn't think it would be Friday.

"I'm sure we'll go through all the proper rehab channels and move forward," said Girardi. "He's had like four or five days off. That's for the doctors and trainers to handle. We'll see how it plays out. I would be (surprised to have him Friday)."

Rodriguez, sidelined for the first 3 1/2 months after recovering from hip surgery, was hoping to make his season debut this week in Texas, but informed the Yankees about stiffness in the quad -- an injury he apparently sustained while on his first rehab assignment.

An MRI exam revealed a Grade 1 strain and Rodriguez was to remain on the disabled list, instead returning to the Yankees' spring training complex in Tampa to rest and receive further evaluation.

Rodriguez, though, asked Dr. Michael Gross, chief of orthopedics of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, to overlook the MRI for a second opinion.

The doctor appeared on WFAN radio in New York on Wednesday and said he didn't physically examine Rodriguez, but told the radio station he did not see "any sort of injury there."

Rodriguez, though, was supposed to inform the Yankees in writing that he was receiving a second opinion about the injury and failed to do so.

Cashman then issued a statement Wednesday night and said the team wants Rodriguez in the lineup "as soon as possible."

Rodriguez is also facing a possible suspension from Major League Baseball for his alleged ties to Biogenesis of America, a Miami-based anti-aging clinic suspected of supplying performance-enhancing substances.