Alex Rodriguez's recent progress is said by people around the Yankees to have been dramatic, with one person calling it "fantastic" and another even speculating A-Rod could possibly begin to play rehab games just after the All-Star break.

There have been dire predictions about A-Rod's future based on the circumstances of a player in his late 30s undergoing two major hip surgeries and all the rest of his history. But one Yankees person, hearing of his recent progress, marveled Wednesday about Rodriguez.

"He may beat everyone back," the Yankees person said, meaning all the many other injured Yankees.

Rodriguez, whose badly damaged right hip was repaired in the winter, is now physically ahead of Derek Jeter since A-Rod is able to run closer to full bore -- though general manager Brian Cashman isn't ready to pinpoint dates for either player. With $90 million worth of players on the disabled list, and in some cases on and off and on again, it's understandable why the Yankees would be gun shy about laying out timetables publicly. This Yankees season has been about injuries first and setbacks second.

"We've always stated sometime after the All-Star break, but we've never been in a position to say right after the All-Star break," Cashman said about A-Rod and Jeter, who, during the spring, re-injured his surgically repaired broken ankle. "It could be July or August or September."

With an about-to-be 38-year-old player such as A-Rod who has had two major hip operations, there are no certainties. But people who have seen him run and hit lately provide an extremely cheery review.

One Yankees person said A-Rod is "clearly well ahead of Derek," though the ups and downs of rehab will keep Cashman from declaring that A-Rod will surely be the first of the two all-time greats to return. Jeter was once thought likely to be ready for opening day, then the timetable was moved back until early June before the more murky "sometime" after the All-Star break.

A-Rod's progress is obvious, though, and he was said to have put on a power display in Tampa this week. "Alex is clearly able to do everything functionally. It's just wrapping it all up and putting it into games," Cashman said.