That picture above is from last night’s 10th inning. Who would have had the foresight to take such a picture in the ninth?
From a distance, Joe Girardi’s decision to pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez looks easy. Rodriguez had been awful. There was a right-hander on the mound. Raul Ibanez has been an outstanding pinch hitter. But in the moment, in that dugout, the historic magnitude of pinch hitting for one of the game’s all-time greats escapes no one.
“Of course you do (think about that),” Girardi said. “And you know you’re going to be asked a lot of questions if it doesn’t work. … I mean, it’s a tough move. Sometimes you’ve got to do what your gut tells you, and my gut told me to make the move. I still have the utmost respect for Al, and I still think he’s a great player. He’s just going through a little tough time right now.”
Ibanez said he had to ask another player to find out who he was about to pinch hit for, and the name didn’t escape him.
“I just tried to put it behind me and get a good pitch to hit,” he said.
Rodriguez said it never occured to him that he might not take that at-bat.
“Obviously not,” he said. “I’ve never had that situation in my career.”
It’s a gutsy move. It might be an obvoius move too, but it’s certainly a gutsy move by Girardi.
“I just went to (Alex Rodriguez) and I said, ‘You’re scuffling a little bit right now,'” Girardi said. “‘We have got a low-ball hitter, and we’ve got a shorter porch in right field, then left field obviously. Raul has been a good pinch hitter for us, and I’m just going to take a shot.'”
“When he told me,” Rodriguez said. “I said, ‘Joe, you gotta do exactly what you’ve gotta do.’ Then I got up to the top step and started cheering. … (Tonight), that opportunity may come back for me again, and I’ll be ready. I’m going to attack. There’s no hedging. I’m coming right back at them.”
Rodriguez said he fully expects to play tonight, and with a lefty starting for the Orioles, there’s a good chance Rodriguez will be back in that No. 3 spot in the order. Is Rodriguez still capable of doing what Ibanez did in his place?
“Yeah, 100 percent,” Rodriguez said. “I saw the ball well (last night), was as relaxed and comfortable as I’ve been in a long time. Sometimes when you get your pitch or two, you can’t foul them back, can’t leave them in the net. You wish you were 8-for-15, but the bottom line is we have a 2-1 lead, (tonight) we have another big game and I’ll be ready to keep attacking.”
Associated Press photo