Alex Rodriguez takes batting practice for first time since hand fracture

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The Yankees will be without Mark Teixeira for a little while due to a Grade 1 strain of his left calf, but it’s not all bad news on the injury front.

According to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York, Alex Rodriguez took batting practice earlier today for the first time since fracturing his left hand last month. He also ran the bases and fielded grounders. The plan calls for him to go through a similar workout tomorrow.

“So far, so good,” Rodriguez said. “My legs are coming under me, and I see light at the end of the tunnel. My expectation is to come back at full strength and help this team win.”

Rodriguez still has some hurdles to cross, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on “The Michael Kay Show” this afternoon that the veteran third baseman could begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend if all goes well. The regular season ends for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton on Monday, but both teams are headed for the postseason, so Rodriguez will have the chance to get additional at-bats. The hope is that he could be back before mid-September.

Rodriguez, who turned 37 last month, is hitting .276/.358/.449 with 15 home runs, 44 RBI, 11 stolen bases and an .806 OPS in 94 games played this season.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.