DETROIT – Struggling Curtis Granderson was not in the New York Yankees lineup Wednesday for Game Four of the American League Championship Series. Mere footnote. Alex Rodriguez was also out of it – for the second straight game. Media firestorm.
With A-Rod 0 for 18 against right-handed pitchers with 12 strikeouts in the postseason, he took a seat against Detroit Tigers righty Max Scherzer and Eric Chavez again was penciled in at third base.
“I’m obviously not doing somersaults,” Rodriguez said as he was swarmed by reporters on the Comerica Park field prior to batting practice. “I’m not happy about it. Obviously you come to the ballpark feeling that you can help the team win, and when you see your name is not in the lineup, you’re obviously disappointed. You’ve got to just shift to being a cheerleader and also make sure that you’re ready when your number is called.”
As it turned out, no one’s number got called for Game Four as it was postponed by rain. The teams waited more than an hour past the 8:07 p.m. first pitch with no rain falling when the decision was made. MLB officials didn’t want to burn starting pitchers Scherzer and CC Sabathia, so it told them not to warm up. The decision on the postponement was made, officials said, to “preserve the integrity of a full nine-inning game.”
The game will be played today at 4:07 p.m. (TBS), with Game Five, if necessary, here Friday, likely at 4 as well. There would be no travel day and Game Six, if necessary, would be in New York on Saturday.
As for Rodriguez, the Yankees owe him $114 million over the next five years. ESPNNY.com reported Wednesday that Yankees President Randy Levine has chatted with the Florida Marlins about a possible trade, a story GM Brian Cashman called “100 percent false” during a news conference prior to the game.
Cashman did admit the benching of A-Rod could have long-term repercussions and even acknowledged his one-time star third baseman is seemingly locked in a platoon role at this point, with Eric Chavez replacing him against right-handed pitching.
“We will go forward. Alex will go forward,” Cashman said. “You know, the one thing about this game, as we’ve all appreciated over time, is that you’re going to have some good times and you’re going to have some tough times. But when you’re going through the tough times, it doesn’t have to be the end all and be all. Opportunities will exist to continue to get back off that mat and get back in the ring and battle.
“And Alex is going to wait for that opportunity. Right now it looks like in theory we’ll do that against left-handed pitching, right now, in this particular time, in this particular moment. That doesn’t mean that he’s done, that he’s finished, that he is not capable. He is still a big threat”
Manager Joe Girardi insisted there are scenarios in which he could use Rodriguez in this series, but it’s clearly against left-handed pitching.
“I don’t think he is a ‘shot’ player,” Girardi said. “I think he’s a guy that’s going through some struggles, similar to what [Granderson] went through the last month and a half or whatever. And there’s some things that you have to try to fix and get him going, and we’ll continue to do that with both of them.”
Rodriguez was upbeat when asked about his relationship with Girardi, even though the skipper has pulled the plug on him with regularity this postseason.
“The thing I will give Joe a lot of credit for is he has been very good to me over the years,” he said. “So he has a lot of equity with me. For me, it’s just tough. I’m a competitor. And I really feel in my heart that whenever I’m in that lineup the team’s a better team. Without a question. So we’ll disagree there till the end, but I like Joe, I support Joe and our job right now is to come together like a family.”
A-Rod was at his angriest when asked about Tuesday’s New York Post report that he exchanged baseballs with two female fans behind the Yankees dugout during Game One, trying to get their phone numbers.
“Look, there’s blood in the water,” he said. “Some of the criticism I’ve received and I’ve been here nine years, I can take that. Well deserved. That other stuff, gossip or Page Six, I don’t give a [bleep] about that. We’re here to cover baseball. I do think some of the criticism out there is very fair, and I can live with that, but some of the other stuff is not fair.”
Following his team’s exhibition game Tuesday, Lakers star Kobe Bryant had plenty to say about A-Rod, whom he befriended when they met on a commercial set a few years ago. They spoke by phone over the weekend about Rodriguez’s troubles.
“I just say to him, ‘You’re Alex Rodriguez. You’re A-Rod. You’re one of the best to ever do it,’ ” Bryant told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “I think sometimes he kind of forgets that and wants to try to do the right thing all the time. Which is the right team attitude to have. But other times you really have to put your head down and say, ‘Hell with it’ and just do your thing.
“Hopefully the next game they’ll kind of give him a chance, maybe put him back at third and let him respond to the pressure, which I think he’ll do.”
At least at the first attempt to play Game Four, A-Rod didn’t get that chance.