Joe Girardi said he never checked with Alex Rodriguez this morning. Didn’t make sure his legs feel up to another day at designated hitter, just put his name in the lineup and trusted that Rodriguez would speak up if he needed a day off.
“I saw him, and he didn’t tell me he couldn’t play, so I just left it,” Girardi said.
The Yankees have a day off on Monday, and they have another one the Monday after that. The regular season ends a week after that. With that schedule giving everyone a few days off, Girardi acknowledged there’s potential for Rodriguez to be a DH the rest of the year.
“I do (think it’s possible),” Girardi said. “Once we get through these 17 days, the schedule is a little more friendly. We actually have an off day coming up. … You’d like to maybe give another guy a DH day once in a while too, but if it’s what we have to do, it’s what we have to do.”
Without Brett Gardner, the Yankees could basically use Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells as a sort of right field platoon, while using Mark Reynolds and Eduardo Nunez to plug the hole at third base. Making Rodriguez a full-time DH might take away the opportunity to play a guy like Zoilo Almonte, but there’s really no indication Almonte is in the lineup mix anyway.
Girardi said he was surprised to see Rodriguez having such trouble running last night — “I thought he would move better than that,” he said — but given the situation, the Yankees want to keep Rodriguez’s bat even if they’re a little bothered by his legs. A day off tomorrow would give Rodriguez two days in a row to rest, but that’s not really in the plans.
“I would love to have him in the lineup tomorrow,” Girardi said. “I don’t think we have the luxury of giving people two days off, but we’ll see how he feels.”
• David Phelps has been activated, but he’s limited to an inning, maybe slightly more. “He really didn’t have a chance to get built up, so for him to be a long reliever or starter is not something you could ask him to do,” Girardi said. “… One inning in these type of games could be extremely important, as we saw last night.”
• Obviously Phelps never expected his forearm to keep him out this long. He saw Dr. James Andrews at one point, and Dr. Andrews said he just needed more time, not surgery. So Phelps waited until he felt absolutely ready to pitch before throwing a couple of simulated games; one inning on Monday and two innings on Thursday. “It’s nice to be here in this fight right now,” Phelps said.
• Look for Phelps to potentially move immediately into a key role, especially given some of the recent bullpen struggles. Even without facing big league hitters in more than two months, Phelps could be a go-to option in key spots. “I’m not so sure we have a chance to be patient with him,” Girardi said. “He might be thrown right in the fire.”
• First Major League start for J.R. Murphy. With Austin Romine not playable yet, Murphy gets a turn so that Chris Stewart can get a break. “I think (Murphy)’s calm,” Girardi said. “I don’t think he gets too emotional back there. He’s improved a ton as a catcher over the couple of years that I’ve seen him. He swings the bat well. I think he retains pretty well, and obviously that’s important.”
• Girardi said he would be willing to use Stewart as a late-inning defensive replacement if necessary.
• Also, Girardi said he’ll look for late opportunities to pinch run for Rodriguez, but he doesn’t want to run for him if Rodriguez’s spot in the lineup is likely to come up again. That’s why no one pinch ran for him last night.
• Talked to Dellin Betances just a little bit this morning. He said he’s been throwing bullpens basically every other day to try to stay sharp. He throws roughly 15 pitches each time. He last threw one on Thursday and would normally throw another today, but with the day game, he’s planning to wait until tomorrow. He’s healthy, just hasn’t been used.
Associated Press photos