Alex Rodriguez played in his first rehab game Tuesday night. (Chuck Burton / AP)

Third baseman Alex Rodriguez took his first step toward a return to the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.

Making his first appearance since having hip surgery in January, A-Rod went hitless in two at-bats over three innings in a game with the Charleston RiverDogs. The warm, ever-nurturing New York media pointed out that “picking up where he left off in ALCS, A-Rod hits into DP, whiffs in return.”

Famously benched and replaced by a pinch hitter during the 2012 American League Championship Series, A-Rod remained upbeat about his performance, with featured live at-bats on ESPN.

“Look, I’m as curious as you guys are to see how I’m going to react,:” Rodrigueztold USA Today. “I’ve got to be realistic with myself. I’m almost 38 not 28. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything.”

Defensively, A-Rod, who grounded into a double play and took a called strike three, was tested on the first play of the game, when the leadoff hitter bunted perfectly toward him. A-Rod fielded the ball rather than charging it and his throw to first was too late to catch Kyle Wren.

“That was a welcome-back play,” Rodriguez said. “It was a heck of a bunt; it always works out that way. I actually thought I was going to have to dive the first play of the game.”

He’s scheduled to play again Wednesday night, provided his body isn’t rebelling. He’d be that much closer to returning to the Yankees, who could use a healthy hitter.

(Chuck Burton / AP) (Chuck Burton / AP)

“I didn’t move around too much,” he said. “I thought the bunt play was okay. It was a good test right off the bat. I’ll have a good idea after a half a dozen games. I’ll see how my body feels in the morning when I wake up, how it aches.

“Timing is the least of my concerns. It’s really about getting the overall body, getting in shape, getting my legs underneath. I need to make sure my body is conditioned for the long haul.”

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