Alex Rodriguez has started at designated hitter more than any other Yankees player this season. Today will be his ninth DH start. Raul Ibanez and Derek Jeter have done it five times apiece. No one else has done it more than twice.
“He’s fine,” Joe Girardi said. “Don’t make anything of it. He is fine and I’m just trying to keep him as fresh as I can. If you’ve noticed, I’ve only sat him one time in 26 games. I’ve only had to sit him one time and it’s because I’m able to do what I’m doing.”
Girardi made it clear in spring training that he expected to give Rodriguez regular turns at DH, but it’s still a bit surprising to see it in a third of the team’s games. This will be Rodriguez’s second straight DH start, which Girardi said is in preparation for tomorrow’s day game. With a short turn around, Girardi wanted to give Rodriguez a little bit of rest so that he won’t need a full day off.
Also, Girardi said, the number of DH days will begin to dwindle after Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner come off the disabled list. For now, Raul Ibanez has been playing the field against right-handed starters, which opens some chance for other players to DH. That won’t be the case much longer, and Girardi is trying to take advantage while he can.
• Swisher might play tomorrow, but Girardi said that depends on how he gets through today’s activity and what the training staff says tomorrow. “He’s going to do everything today,” Girardi said. “He’s going to hit. He’s going to do defense. He’s going to run the bases, and we want him to run them pretty hard to see. It’s kind of a test.”
• Gardner is scheduled to hit on the field today. If that goes well, he’ll try to do the same thing tomorrow and could begin a rehab assignment as early as Monday.
• As you would probably expect, Girardi said Dave Robertson will be his closer today. My sense is that Robertson will be the regular closer until his workload gets out of hand, at which point Rafael Soriano will takeover for a day or two.
• Positive report on Eric Chavez, who told the Yankees that his neck is feeling better and the other symptoms have improved. Sounds like the Yankees believe he might be activated at the end of his seven-day stint.
• Girardi on today’s starter, Hiroki Kuroda: “I thought his slider was really good (last time) and I thought the location of his fastball was pretty good. We’ve talked about one of his keys is his sinker, and against a left-handed-hitting club, it’s important to get them on that fastball away from them and get some ground balls.”
• An interesting minor league note: Utility man Ronnier Mustelier has been called up from Double-A to Triple-A. He’s a little old for a prospect, but he hit pretty well last year and was hitting .353/.412/.598 with Trenton. He can play second, third and the outfield. Don’t rule him out completely for a big league role at some point. Could be a useful utility type, especially considering the top hitters in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre so far have been limited defensive players (except Kevin Russo, who’s hit pretty well, especially recently).
Associated Press photos