Hard to know how much of this lineup is truly based on a gut feeling, how much is based on mending a relationship, and how much is simply one last chance for a player whose career numbers suggest he’s earned that much.
“This is a guy that we really need to get going,” Joe Girardi said. “This is a guy that, 2009, you think about what he did throughout the playoffs. I just believe in my heart that he’s ready to go. I believe he’s going to contribute. We’re going to put him back in there.”
Yes, Alex Rodriguez is back in the lineup against a right-hander. He sat yesterday, he’s playing today, and whether he’ll play tomorrow remains undecided. Rodriguez is 1-for-5 in his regular-season career against Tigers starter Doug Fister, plus 0-for-4 with a walk in last year’s division series. Eric Chavez is 3-for-11 against Fister.
“I make my lineup every morning in my head, really, when I watch the tapes and I watch the films and the at-bats against guys,” Girardi said. “As far as worrying about tomorrow’s lineup, I’m not worried about tomorrow’s lineup. Let’s just be productive today.”
Could Chavez start again this postseason?
“I think it’s possible you see him, sure,” Girardi said.
Rodriguez’s career numbers speak for themselves, and he’s signed for five more years, so it’s hard to blame Girardi for not wanting to destroy that relationship by keeping him on the bench the rest of his postseason. That said, Girardi’s shown that he’s willing to make the move. He’s willing to sit Rodriguez in a big spot, willing to pinch hit for him in the late innings.
Before today’s game, Girardi talked to Rodriguez to let him know the situation, but I can’t help wondering whether the tone of those conversations might change if Rodriguez’s numbers don’t.
“I told him where I was going to hit him and it went good,” Girardi said. “He’s raring to go. Raring to go.”
• The Yankees will go with Hiroki Kuroda on short rest in Game 2, Phil Hughes in Game 3 and CC Sabathia in Game 4. “Someone was possibly going to be off his normal rest,” Girardi said. “This way, it’s only one guy.”
• Kuroda said he was told yesterday that he could start on short rest Sunday. “This is probably the shortest rest that I have ever had in my baseball career,” he said. “But at this point of the season, we can’t really be talking about anything but to win, so I’m just going to prepare myself to win this game, like I always have throughout the season.”
• Whether it was Game 3 on short rest or Game 7 on short rest, Sabathia was only going to be able to start two games this series no matter what. The Yankees decided to keep him properly rested for his first start and keep Hughes on turn. “We thought about (Sabathia in Game 3),” Girardi said. “But you think about how hard he’s worked these two starts. I would rather have him Game 4 fully prepared than maybe short rest in Game 3.”
• Girardi said the Yankees talked about having David Phelps start Game 2 instead of Kuroda. The did not, however, entertain the idea of using Ivan Nova. Says quite a bit about how those two finished the season.
• With no left-handed starters in the Tigers rotation, the Yankees didn’t need Eduardo Nunez to DH this series. That was part of the reason for taking him off the roster and adding Cody Eppley. “With Kuroda coming back on short rest, and some pitchers coming back maybe on short rest, and them not having a left-handed starter, we just felt we’d add a pitcher and take Nuney off,” Girardi said.
• With all right-handers in the Tigers rotation, Girardi said he expects Raul Ibanez to be the everyday DH this series. It’s possible he could use Ibanez in the outfield if the current outfielders continue to struggle, but that doesn’t sound likely. “I’m not completely against it,” Girardi said. “But we signed him to be a DH.”
• Girardi said he’s still not sure Joba Chamberlain will be available today, but he said Chamberlain is “pretty good” and will play catch to determine his status.
• Girardi has moved Nick Swisher down in the order, but it sounds like he has no intention of pulling him from the lineup. “I told him yesterday, I said, ‘Do me a favor, look at all the empty grass out there,’” Girardi said. “‘There’s a lot of green out there. Stop hitting it at people.’ He laughed. I think you have to remind guys. People sometimes get caught up in the numbers instead of the at-bat itself. You have to remind them their swings are good. He just missed hitting a home run, he lined out deep to left field; he’s putting the barrel of the bat to the ball. That’s what you want.”
Austin Jackson CF
Omar Infante 2B
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Prince Fielder 1B
Delmon Young DH
Jhonny Peralta SS
Andy Dirks LF
Avisail Garcia RF
Gerald Laird C
Associated Press photos