A decisive Game 5. Alex Rodriguez is healthy enough to play. The Yankees are choosing to keep him on the bench.
“I would have bet against that,” Joe Girardi said.
Yet, here we are.
“The man has a lot of pride and the man has accomplished a lot in his career,” Girardi said. “I’m sure it’s not easy. I mean, imagine if you’re in his shoes. Everyone wants to be in it. I always wanted to play, too. And I understood. It’s something we have to deal with.”
Girardi said he made the decision tonight. He slept on it, studied the video and the numbers, and decided he couldn’t trust Rodriguez’s at-bats against right handers. All of Rodriguez’s hits this series have come against lefties, and if you add the way he finished the regular season, he’s played his way out of the lineup.”
Two nights ago, Girardi pinch hit for Rodriguez in a one-run game. Last night, he did it again. Tonight, Rodriguez is on the bench hoping for an opportunity to take a swing against a left-hander. If there were a lefty starting for the Orioles, Girardi said, Rodriguez would have played.
“It’s been a struggle against the right handers,” Girardi said. “Chavy’s been a guy that we’ve played against a lot of right handers, and he’s been pretty successful for us. It’s a tough decision, there’s no doubt about it, because of what he’s meant to our club. But I just thought with the struggles that he’s having, I’m going to go with Chavy. (Rodriguez) said he’s ready to help when he needs to help, and let’s win today.”
Girardi said he talked to various people in the organization before making the decision — “They allow me to make the lineup,” he said — and Girardi referenced the time Joe Torre started Cecil Fielder over Tino Martinez. It’s not a bad comparison, but Martinez wasn’t a Hall of Famer with five years left on his contract.
Is Girardi worried about the long-term impact of such a decision.
“You can’t think about that now,” Girardi said. “You got to think about winning a game. This is not June. This is October. … If things become an issue, now is not the time to try to work it out. We’ve got all offseason, but I don’t think it’s going to be an issue.”
• If Rodriguez can sit, why not Curtis Granderson? “The big thing for Grandy is to swing at strikes,” Girardi said. “If he swings at strikes, he’s going to do damage. This was the only change I decided to make.”
• What about Nick Swisher? “Swish’s numbers don’t indicate his at-bats,” Girardi said. “I think Swish’s at-bats have been pretty good. He’s lined out, he’s hit balls hard, he hasn’t chased a lot of balls.”
• Couldn’t Brett Gardner have started in center field? “The thing about Brett is, he hasn’t played,” Girardi said. “He’s had three at-bats.”
• OK, so why not put Ichiro Suzuki in center field and use Raul Ibanez in left? “Then I have to come up with a DH,” Girardi said.
• Joba Chamberlain’s availability is still uncertain. “I don’t know,” Girardi said. “The one thing I can say about Joba is, he’s pitched through a lot in his career. If there’s any way he can get out there, I’m sure he’ll make himself available.”
• Girardi said the only pitcher who’s not available is Hiroki Kuroda. He would use Andy Pettitte if necessary, and he expects to have Dave Robertson and Rafael Soriano despite their recent workload. “I’ve got to talk to them, but I have to believe I’ll have them,” Girardi said.
• Right now Derek Jeter is in the lineup, and there’s every reason to think he’ll stay in the lineup. “I believe so,” Girardi said. “I’m not 100 percent though.”
• After being hesitant to do it all year, Girardi said he decided to stack Ichiro and Cano because he was going to have to put lefties back-to-back at some point, and he thought Ichiro and Cano were the best equipped to face left-handed relievers late in the game.
• How is Girardi feeling about a winner-take-all Game 5? “I feel good about it,” he said. “I feel good about CC on the mound. I feel good that we’re going to go out and play an excellent ballgame. Play 166 games and it comes down to one game, that’s baseball. Let’s go find a way.”
Nate McLouth LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis RF
Matt Wieters C
Manny Machado 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Lew Ford DH
Robert Andino 2B
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
2:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Yankees Hit
3:00 p.m. – Gates Open to the Public
3:30 – 4:20 p.m. – Orioles Hit
4:50 p.m. – Lineups Announced
4:55 p.m. – Presentation of Colors: Navy Operational Support Center New York City
4:56 p.m. – National Anthem: James Moye
4:59 p.m. – Ceremonial First Pitch: David Cone
5:02 p.m. – Umpires and Managers to Home Plate
5:05 p.m. – Yankees Take the Field
5:07 p.m. – First Pitch
Associated Press photos