There were a few factors that went into Joe Girardi’s lineup decision this morning in Anaheim.
1. Day game after a night game eliminated Jorge Posada starting behind the plate.
2. Girardi wanted to give Alex Rodriguez a day at DH, and Rodriguez told him today would be a good day to do it.
3. Nick Johnson’s lower back is a little stiff after taking extra batting practice yesterday.
“I’ve had a back issue,” Girardi said. “A little stiff can become a lot of stiff. Let’s keep it a little stiff, but I expect him to be fine. I expect him to be available.”
Mostly, Girardi said, his decision to sit Johnson had more to do with wanting to give Rodriguez a half day off with his first start at DH.
“I think it’s important that Alex gets a DH day,” Girardi said. “He’s swinging the bat so well right now that you hate to give him a full day off.”
Here’s Girardi’s pregame session.
• Girardi admitted that he would have considered dropping Johnson in the batting order had his regular DH been in the lineup. “We might have dropped him down, we might have left him there,” Girardi said. Assuming Johnson starts tomorrow, Girardi said it’s possible he will not be in the No. 2 hole.
• Girardi said he talked to Johnson about his struggles and Johnson said he went through a similar slump last year. “I said, ‘How do you handle it?’ And he said, ‘Sometimes I become a little more aggressive.’ There was a point last year where he said he became too aggressive, so it’s a fine line. When you’re struggling as a hitter, I think hitters get in a hurry to get going. You don’t want them to become overly aggressive. The bottom line is, you have to get a good pitch to hit.”
• Still haven’t heard anything about the extent of Angels catcher Bobby Wilson’s injuries after last night’s collision at home plate, but Girardi once again said he had no problem with the play. He also had no problem with the fact Teixeira went straight to the dugout without checking on Wilson immediately after the play. “We’re playing for something,” Girardi said. “This isn’t a family reunion softball game.”
• By the way, Girardi said Angels manager Mike Scioscia’s reputation as a catcher was as a guy who would do anything to block the plate. “He used to basically sit on the plate and say come on, I dare you,” Girardi said. “He was tough. He dropped down on both knees and said, go ahead and try.”
• Speaking of tough, you probably remember how good Joel Pineiro was against the Yankees the last time he faced them. Girardi said the key is to lay off the low sinkers. “If the ball starts just above the knee, it’s not going to be a strike,” he said. “But that’s easier said than done when it’s coming in at 90 miles per hour and it’s sharp and late, but you do your best to lay off it.”
• Girardi is very excited that the Northwestern quarterback was drafted.
• Random but hilarious pregame moment: Ramiro Pena got to his locker to find a huge Yankees hoodie hanging among his clothes. It was either put there by accident or as a joke, but regardless, Pena took one look at it and walked across the clubhouse to CC Sabathia’s locker. “CC, is this yours?” Pena said. It was.
Erick Aybar SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Torii Hunter CF
Hideki Matsui DH
Kendry Morales 1B
Juan Rivera LF
Howie Kendrick 2B
Mike Napoli 2B
Brandon Wood 3B
Associated Press photo