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08/04/11 8:58 PM ET

A-Rod encouraged after first on-field workout

TAMPA, Fla. -- Nobody knew what to expect from Alex Rodriguez in his first day back on the diamond since undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

But when it was done, Rodriguez was pleased with the progress he made Thursday in his on-field workout that lasted 33 minutes at the Yankees' Minor League complex in Tampa. The 36-year-old, who wore a soft brace on the surgically repaired right knee, took swings, fielded grounders, made throws to first base and even turned in a couple of light sprints.

"It was a good day -- encouraging first day out on the field," he said. "I felt pretty good."

Rodriguez also declined to comment on Major League Baseball's investigation into his alleged involvement in illegal high-stakes poker games.

Rodriguez began the workout by testing his knee right away. He warmed up with three light sprints in the outfield and various agility drills, before loosening up his arm by making 25 throws in a game of catch.

After he had worked up a sweat in the scorching weather, the Yankees third baseman moved to the field and got down on both knees in front of third base to take 27 ground balls hit by Pat Roessler, New York's director of player development.

When Rodriguez was done with that, he stood on the grass in front of third base and fielded 14 more grounders without much lateral movement, making the throw to first each time.

Then it was off to the cages for the 18-year veteran to see how he felt with the bat in his hand. Rodriguez took swings solely with his front hand before taking others only with his back hand to make sure his hitting motion was feeling good after the time off. He proceeded to take others in his regular stance with both hands on the bat without a hitch, ending with 32 swings using a short bat and 34 swings using a normal bat.

After the routine was over, Rodriguez headed into the facility to get iced down and work out in the pool.

However, the heavy workload doesn't mean Rodriguez, who underwent surgery on July 11, is rushing the rehab process along. He has no intention of returning to the Yankees as their designated hitter.

"The idea is to get back to full speed," Rodriguez said. "That's why we're being cautious with our time and making sure we get 100 percent before we go back. So obviously, the idea is to play third base.

"It's important to get healthy, first and foremost. The guys are doing a great job up there swinging the bats extremely well. They're definitely holding the fort down."

Said manager Joe Girardi: "I'm not really sure if it's a week of working out before he goes in a game. I think it all just depends on how he feels and how his body is recovering."

Rodriguez's original prognosis was a recovery of four to six weeks after surgery, which would land him back in New York's lineup at some point between Aug. 15 and Aug. 30. Based on past events, Rodriguez doesn't expect it to take long for him to get back to full health, referring to a knee surgery he underwent in 1999 for torn cartilage as a "simple recovery."

But the next few days could play a big role in deciding the length of Rodriguez's rehab stint. The 14-time All Star will work out in Tampa again Friday.

"I'll have a much better indication over the next 48 hours," Rodriguez said. "I'm curious to see how my body reacts [Friday]. We're going to ramp it up every day. Hopefully, like five or 10 percent more each day."

Anthony Chiang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.