Alex Rodriguez receives cortisone shot in left thumb, unlikely to return until Friday

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Derek Jeter returned to the Yankees’ starting lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Red Sox, but Alex Rodriguez remains sidelined with a Grade 1 sprain of his left thumb.

While an MRI on the thumb came back negative yesterday, he was given a cortisone injection. It’s not uncommon for players to rest for a couple of days following a cortisone shot, so Rodriguez admitted to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that he is unlikely to play until the Yankees return home Friday to face the Blue Jays.

“They told me basically to stay off it, to pretty much do all lower-body stuff, to stay away from a bat for a day or two,” Rodriguez said. “The one thing is, it’s so frustrating to come here. It’s the last time we come here for the regular season. I mean, it hurts like hell just to sit on the sidelines watching.”

Rodriguez originally suffered the injury while attempting to make a backhanded play on a ground ball in his first game back from knee surgery on August 21. He returned to the lineup last Thursday, but aggravated the thumb during the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader against the Orioles.

Rodriguez, 36, is batting .289/.361/.478 with 14 homers, 53 RBI and an .839 OPS over 84 games this season. He hasn’t appeared in less than 124 games in a season since 1995.

Report: Giants in “serious discussions” with Reds to acquire Billy Hamilton

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Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Giants are engaged in “serious discussions” with the Reds to acquire center fielder Billy Hamilton. Talks are apparently advanced enough that a deal could be completed before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

It’s no secret that the Giants would like to make an upgrade in the outfield this offseason, as the club has also been linked to Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. Currently, the Giants’ outfield consists of Denard Span, Hunter Pence, and Jarrett Parker.

Hamilton, 27, owns a meager .248/.298/.334 batting line across parts of five seasons in the majors with the Reds. However, he has plenty of speed, having stolen at least 56 bases in each of the last four seasons. Hamilton is also well-regarded for his defense, which would be a boon at spacious AT&T Park.

Hamilton is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He’s projected to earn $5 million for this coming season. Buchanan notes that the Rangers are also interested in potentially acquiring Hamilton.