The Yankees have gone 21-11 without Alex Rodriguez, last seen playing for them on July 7 before undergoing knee surgery four days later.
“A lot of guys have stepped up and swung the bats extremely well, but adding Al back, he can help out any team,” Derek Jeter said. “Any time someone gets hurt, you can’t sit around and say, ‘Wait till he comes back.’ You have to continue to play. That’s what we’ve been able to do.”
But life without A-Rod appears to be coming to an end. He’s expected back during the four-game series in Minnesota that begins Thursday night.
“It makes our lineup so much deeper,” Mark Teixeira said. “It makes our bench deeper. It just gives us more options late in games, or maybe if we need to rest a guy here or there. It makes our team much better.”
The Yankees ended up 8-4 in this last 12-game span against the White Sox, Red Sox, Angels and Rays.
“I thought they were an important two weeks and I thought we played well,” Joe Girardi said. “I think we’ve played well the second half. … With the injuries that we had to our bullpen, the uncertainty of our rotation when we left spring training, the injury to Derek, the injury to Alex, this club has persevered.”
The Yankees struggled with injuries down the stretch last year, especially to Teixeira, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. Girardi had to sit guys, and the Yankees finished a game back of Boston, drawing the wild card instead.
“There was so much made of last year,” Girardi said. “People thought, ‘Were we trying?’ Yeah, we were trying to win. I want to play here as many games as I can if we’re fortunate enough to get to the playoffs. That’s the bottom line. Our team was built for this park. So why wouldn’t we want to win our division? But you can’t run guys out there if they’re hurt. The big thing is, we’ve got to stay healthy.”
In tonight’s opener of the three-game series in Kansas City, A.J. Burnett and Felipe Paulino are the scheduled starters.