As soon as he was hit, Alex Rodriguez crashed to the ground, grabbed his left hand and began kicking and squirming in the dirt. He was clearly hurt, but…
“I never thought fracture,” he said.
Rodriguez has a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal near his left pinky. Eric Chavez said he had the same injury. He remembered it being in 2006, and he remembered missing close to eight weeks. The Yankees media guide shows it was actually in 2004 and he missed slightly less than six weeks.
“No, you can’t play with it, no,” Chavez said. “… The ball (that hit Rodriguez) was a changeup. If the seams hit you, and the seams hit you in the right spot, it doesn’t matter how hard it’s thrown, it’s going to break. I know.”
So this is the latest blow in a season full of them. Joba Chamberlain’s ankle. Michael Pineda’s shoulder. Brett Gardner’s elbow. Mariano Rivera’s knee. Andy Pettitte’s ankle. Now Rodriguez’s left hand.
“I don’t know if you can really put a measure on who gets hurt,” Derek Jeter said. “We lost Mo. We lost Andy. Now we’ve lost Al. But, you know, you find out how good you are. Other guys are going to have to step up. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves because no one else is going to. It’ll be a challenge but it’s a challenge with all the injuries we’ve had this year.”
Girardi said that Eric Chavez will play third base tomorrow. That’s an easy decision against a right-handed starter. The Yankees also have Jayson Nix available to play third. With a day game tomorrow and an off day Thursday, the Yankees could make a quick call-up just to fill the roster spot before making a more permanent addition later.
There’s no word yet on a call-up, but the Triple-A roster doesn’t offer an ideal solution. Corban Joseph is hitting, but he’s a lefty, which doesn’t fit well as a complement to Chavez. Russell Branyan has some big league time at third base, but he’s also left-handed and hasn’t played much third base since 2008. Ronnier Mustelier is on the disabled list.
Of the active right-handers, Kevin Russo is hitting in Triple-A, but he’s no longer on the 40-man. Brandon Laird is on the 40-man, but he hasn’t hit much this year. David Adams has been hitting, and he’s on the 40-man, but he hasn’t played above Double-A. Ramiro Pena is a switch hitter and a known quantity. He could be a short-term utility option, a defensive bench player while Chavez and Nix split time at third.
The real complement to Chavez might be Eduardo Nunez, who recently came off the Triple-A disabled list and is currently getting his playing time in Tampa. Even if it doesn’t happen right away, the Yankees could give Nunez another chance on the big league roster, this time focused strictly on third base in hopes of finding some defensive consistency.
• Felix Hernandez hit three batters tonight, and reliever Lucas Luetge nearly hit another, but absolutely no one in the Yankees clubhouse thought the pitches were intentional. Giving the circumstances — long-time teammate Ichiro Suzuki in the foot; Jeter and Rodriguez in a two-run game in the eighth — intentionally hitting someone made no sense. “It wasn’t intentional,” Jeter said. “I mean, it was a close game at the time. I think Al got hit with a changeup. It’s just one of those freak things. You wish it didn’t happen; obviously when somebody gets injured it’s pretty bad.”
• When Rodriguez was hit, it was pretty clear pretty quickly that there was a problem. “It didn’t look good,” Mark Teixeira said. “A lot of times, you get hit, and once you check yourself, you kind of brush yourself off and you go to first. He stayed down and he was really holding that thing in pain, so I had a weird feeling that it wasn’t good. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.”
• With two on and two outs in the eighth, Girardi left Raul Ibanez in to face lefty Luetge. Pinch hitting wasn’t as obvious a call as it might have seemed. “If I pinch hit Andruw, they’re going to bring in Brnadon League,” Girardi said. “So I just decided to stick with Raul in that situation.”
• Another questionable Girardi decision: Taking Freddy Garcia out in the eighth inning. Garcia had thrown just 89 pitches, and he’d retired the past 15 batters he’d faced. “Saunders had hit him pretty hard,” Girardi said. “So I figured with the lefties coming up I would just bring in my lefty, and then go from there. We got in trouble because we walked people, and then you get a check swing for a hit. What are you going to do?”
• Saunders had homered and singled off Garcia. The home run was easily the hardest-hit ball off Garcia all night. Clay Rapada came out of the bullpen to face lefties Dustin Ackley and Saunders. He walked Ackley before Saunders lined out sharply. That was the start of a one-run inning for the Mariners, giving them an insurance run.
• Garcia actually looked pretty good. The home run was hit hard, but the three singles during that two-run third weren’t particularly well hit. “I think I feel really good today,” Garcia said. “I got everything going right now. Third inning, they scored two runs, I think the only guy that hit the ball really good was Saunders. Beside that, the three or four base hits they have, they don’t really hit the ball hard. I try to go every inning and try to throw my best pitch. I got a good change today. Good slider. I start to always make my pitch, and they give me a favor. They start swinging the bat real aggressive, and for me, when that happens, it’s good because I can locate all my pitches and get the job more easy.”
• This was Garcia’s second quality start of the season. His last start of at least seven inning was July 25, 2011, also against Seattle. This was only his second eight-plus strikeout game since the start of 2008.
• Curtis Granderson hit his 27th home run and had his 25th multi-hit game.
• Teixeira has 23 RBI in July, the most in the Majors this month. … Jeter scored the 1,823rd run of his career, moving ahead of Eddie Collins for 15th-most all-time. … Rapada was charged with an earned run for the first time since June 9.
• Final word goes to Teixeira: “You can’t cry over spilled milk. You really can’t. It’s very unfortunate. You hate to see a guy go down with something freaky like that, but we have gotten through it so far. I expect nothing less out of the guys in this locker room. We expect to get through this and have Alex healthy in 4-6 weeks.”
Associated Press photos