What, you thought Alex Rodriguez was going to fade away quietly?

In case there were any questions about his immediate plans — and there shouldn't have been — Rodriguez made it clear yesterday he intends to return to play baseball, just as he did prior to this week's explosive performance-enhancing drug development. There will be no early retirement.

"Alex is working diligently on his rehabilitation and looks forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible," a source close to Rodriguez told The Post.

The Yankees third baseman underwent surgery Jan. 16 to repair a torn labrum and impingement in his left hip. At that time, the team estimated Rodriguez could return to action in six months, which is right around the All-Star break.

That plan hasn't changed despite the fact Rodriguez is one of the subjects of an inquiry, initiated by Major League Baseball's Department of Investigations and joined by law-enforcement officials, concerning his involvement with Anthony Bosch — a South Florida man whose records from Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic, were published Tuesday in the Miami New Times. The published records indicate Rodriguez allegedly purchased illegal performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch each of the past four years.

For all of the chatter about Rodriguez getting suspended and the Yankees working to void his contract, officials from both MLB and the Yankees are privately preaching patience and trying to temper expectations. It's a distinct possibility this report and the related investigation lead nowhere, and it would be presumptuous to assert confidently that Rodriguez will never again play for the Yankees.

"There aren't any facts in yet," one person in the loop cautioned.