ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Rodriguez's strained right quadriceps will keep him from playing this week, causing the AL MVP to miss this weekend's series against the crosstown rival New York Mets.

"It's still not where it needs to be. I don't see him playing this week," New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Monday night's series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. "You can't afford to have him come back for two days and lose him again for six weeks."

Rodriguez hasn't played since April 28 and is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Thursday.

He had an MRI exam Monday, then worked out the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa for an hour. A-Rod took batting practice, fielded ground balls and ran for about eight minutes in the outfield.

"Taking it one day at a time," he said.

Rodriguez took 87 swings and homered to all field, including a couple long opposite-field shots and one to dead center. He played catch and took ground balls at third base, but did not run the bases during the workout.

Asked if he was pleased with the progress of his rehab, he said: "So far, yes."

While Girardi ruled out his return for the Mets' series at Yankee Stadium, the manager said there's still a possibility that A-Rod could participate in extended spring training games by the end of the week.

Rodriguez initially injured his quad running out a ground ball at Baltimore on April 20. He sat out three games before returning to the lineup on April 25. He appeared in four games before leaving during the eighth inning of a victory at Cleveland.

Two days later, he began his first stint on the DL since July 2000, when he missed 15 games with a right knee strain.

There was more encouraging news on the rehab front with catcher Jorge Posada, who threw for the first time since being placed on the DL with right rotator cuff tendinitis. He made 25 throws from 60 feet following a 15-throw warmup session.

Meanwhile, right-handed pitcher Ian Kennedy appeared to be headed back to the starting rotation. He was pulled after one inning of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre's game against Indianapolis and could rejoin the Yankees for Thursday's series finale against Tampa Bay.

Girardi said before Monday night's game that he was still undecided about Thursday's starter, and that Darrell Rasner will face the Mets on Friday.

Left-hander Kei Igawa, hit hard at Detroit in his return to the majors, was moved into the bullpen. Girardi said it had not been determined whether Igawa would remain a reliever long-term.

"However we need him, we'll use him," Girardi said. "Obviously we want him to be productive and win games. ... We need to see him continue to improve. Right now, he's going to have a chance to show us in the bullpen."