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.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.