It's Official: A-Rod Will Play Friday Night

Yankee slugger has missed entire season

Alex Rodriguez played three innings of an intrasquad game on Thursday, and then thanked the staff at the Yankees minor league complex. He's not going to see them for a while because he's headed for Baltimore and a return to the big leagues on Friday night.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed that the third baseman will make his 2009 debut before the Yankees met the Rays in the Bronx on Thursday night.

The Yankees will be happy to have him back. The current four-game losing streak has been fueled by the team's failure to get hits in key situations. In each of the last two games, they've had two runners on base with less than two outs only to see rallies die at the hands of Ramiro Pena and Jose Molina. Rodriguez's return will not only eliminate Pena from the lineup, it will push the other quality bats further down the lineup to make the Yankees a more threatening offensive team.

That's assuming that A-Rod comes back swinging the bat with gusto, of course, but even at less than 100 percent he's a much more dangerous hitter than Pena is on his best day. The Yanks would prefer as close to 100 percent as possible. With Jorge Posada on the sideline, the team is desperate for more offensive punch and the vintage A-Rod could be the bridge over their currently troubled waters.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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