Alex Rodriguez could begin playing in rehab games Friday

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George King III of the New York Post passes along word that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez could be cleared to begin playing in minor league rehab games as early as Friday.

Rodriguez has been sidelined since early July with a torn meniscus in his right knee and is still recovering from the surgical procedure that was required to correct it. But he’s made good progress and has managed to avoid setbacks to this point.

A-Rod ran backward and side-to-side on Saturday at the Yankees’ spring training complex, also taking grounders and participating in live batting practice. He will up the intensity of his workouts with each passing day this week before having a checkup with a knee specialist on Wednesday or Thursday. If everything looks healthy, the probably week-long minor league rehab assignment can officially begin.

Rodriguez, 35, was batting .295/.366/.485 with 13 homers and 52 RBI in 344 plate appearances before the injury. There’s not expected to be any fallout from reports of his participation in high-stakes poker games.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.