Alex Rodriguez sent for MRI on sore right knee

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Alex Rodriguez was sent for an MRI on his right knee Friday and is being held out of tonight’s lineup against the Rays.

Rodriguez, who originally injured the knee June 19 in a game against the Cubs, will be joined on the bench by Nick Swisher, who is nursing a tender left quad.

Manager Joe Girardi said the test is precautionary, but he wasn’t sure whether Rodriguez would play Saturday.

It’s looking more and more likely that Alex Rodriguez will join Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter in sitting out the All-Star Game.  If so, Adrian Beltre will start for the AL squad.  Kevin Youkilis would be the obvious choice to step into the open roster spot.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.