Yankees bat Alex Rodriguez fourth in 2013 debut

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Is this the Yankees’ way of telling Alex Rodriguez to put up or shut up? They have their 38-year-old former MVP batting cleanup Monday against the White Sox in his 2013 debut.

It’s A-Rod’s first start for the Yankees since Game 2 of last year’s ALCS against the Tigers. Playing on a bad hip that required surgery, Rodriguez hit sixth behind Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin in that one. He wound up finishing 1-for-4 and then took a seat for Games 3 and 4 in the Tigers’ sweep, though he did go 0-for-2 off the bench in Game 4.

If Rodriguez were returning in a more traditional fashion tonight, he may well have started off hitting fifth or sixth. His .214/.333/.452 line in 42 minor league at-bats during his rehab assignment doesn’t exactly scream cleanup hitter.

Rodriguez, though, tried to dictate the pace of his own returning, putting himself at odds with the Yankees more than once. He says he’s ready, so now the team expects to prove it.

With A-Rod batting fourth, Alfonso Soriano has moved up to second in the order versus left-hander Jose Quintana. Vernon Wells is batting fifth and making his first career start at first base, not that anyone will notice.

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.