After injuries to his right knee and left thumb hobbled him down the stretch, Alex Rodriguez has started this ALDS 0 for 8. His only trip on base was a first-inning walk issued by Max Scherzer in Game 2.
A-Rod’s woes climaxed in the eighth inning Sunday. Fans showered the third baseman with boos after he popped out to second against Joaquin Benoit.
Rodriguez acknowledged the jeers but said they were “no big deal.”
“There’s no need to even get emotional,” he said. “Again, it’s one pitch at a time. One big hit can change this whole series around. You really have to stay in the moment. Like Phil Jackson, you have to go into a little bit of a zen mode.”
Rodriguez was on deck with two on and two out in the ninth when Robinson Cano —representing the winning run — grounded out to second to end the game. If he had an opportunity, Rodriguez would’ve no doubt had his zen challenged by a steady diet of fastballs from Jose Valverde. The Tigers have attacked A-Rod repeatedly to see whether or not he can respond. Through two games, he hasn’t.
“He’s a tick late on them,” hitting coach Kevin Long said. “We’ll talk about that, about being a little more ready for fastballs. I would certainly expect more fastballs, but that’s OK. We want him to see fastballs.”
Long and Rodriguez thought Sunday’s at-bats were a step down from those on Saturday, when Rodriguez was called out for strikes on a questionable call and ripped a deep drive to center that fell a little short of a home run.
Rodriguez would not point to his surgically-repaired right knee or injured left thumb as a problem, although he hasn’t been the same since he returned Aug. 21. A-Rod is just 13 for 76 with five extra-base hits and 10 RBI in the subsequent 21 games. He missed 19 others resting the injuries.
“This time of year, nobody wants to hear ‘banged up,’” he said. “You just basically have to take it one pitch at a time and try to win.”
Long said Rodriguez has already made an impact by forcing the Tigers to pitch to Cano, who tied a club postseason record with six RBI in Game 1. But Rodriguez expects he’ll have opportunities to turn the series directly before it’s over. That could be as soon as tonight against Detroit ace Justin Verlander.
“There’s no question,” he said. “I’m assuming over the next day or two or three there’s going to be some big at-bats that I’ll be ready for. Two outs, men in scoring position. That’s something I relish.”
Long thought it was too soon for fans to boo the Yankees’ 2009 postseason hero.
“If we want to beat him up over two games, certainly people have the right to do that,” Long said. “I just don’t think it’s fair.”