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Alex Rodriguez homers in rehab game in Trenton, vows to “keep fighting”

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Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, recovering from a grade 1 quadriceps strain, continued his laborious climb back to the Majors in tonight’s rehab game with the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Facing Phillies top prospect Jesse Biddle of the Reading Fightin Phils in the third inning, Rodriguez hit a long home run to left field. ESPN’s Andrew Marchand writes that left fielder Kelly Dugan didn’t even bother to move as the ball quickly sailed beyond the fence. In his only other at-bat, he struck out looking at a curve from Biddle. The Thunder went on to win 6-2.

Speaking to the media after the game, Rodriguez said he will play on Monday when the Yankees open up a three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox. He added that he thinks he can play another five years, which would take him into his mid-40’s.

Rodriguez also spoke about “entities” conspiring to prevent him from playing baseball. He was asked why he thinks he is being singled out, to which he replied, “I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. I think that’s the pink elephant in the room.” Later, he said, “When all this stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract, that’s concerning for me.”

Rodriguez is among a handful of players expected to be suspended by Major League Baseball. Details will be revealed on Monday. Players have until 6 PM ET Sunday to settle with MLB. Rodriguez promised to “keep fighting“.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.

Report: Tyson Ross not expected to pitch in April

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Petco Park September 29, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.

The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:

We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.

Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.