A-Rod returns to Yankees lineup for ALCS opener, batting sixth
NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees’ lineup for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, one day after the third baseman was benched for the decisive ALDS Game 5 against the Orioles.
Rodriguez will bat sixth and play third base in New York’s 8:07 p.m. ET contest against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium.
“This is a guy that we really need to get going,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “This is a guy that, in 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.”
Rodriguez is batting .125 (2-for-16) in four postseason games this year, including going hitless with nine strikeouts in 12 at-bats against right-handed pitching. Girardi pinch-hit for Rodriguez in both Games 3 and 4 before sitting him completely in Game 5.
The Tigers figure to have nothing but right-handed starters in the ALCS, beginning with Doug Fister in Game 1, but Girardi said that he does not expect that to be a problem.
“I don’t think so. I expect him to do well; I do,” Girardi said. “He’s back in there and we need him to play well, just like all our other guys.”
Before Friday’s Game 5, Rodriguez said that he was “not happy” and “disappointed” by Girardi’s decision, but did not blame the manager, saying he needed to “look in the mirror.”
“I wanted to be in there in the worst way,” Rodriguez said. “But I keep telling you guys, this is not a story about one person, this is about a team.”
Girardi had one opportunity to insert Rodriguez as a pinch-hitter in Game 5, as manager Buck Showalter dared him to pull the trigger by inserting left-hander Troy Patton in the sixth inning. Girardi declined, sticking with Raul Ibanez, who struck out.
While Rodriguez received the nod in Game 1, Girardi said that he believes “it’s possible” that Chavez could re-appear at third base later in the series.
Chavez is hitless in eight postseason at-bats thus far but hit .298 over 245 at-bats against right-handed pitching this season and pummeled the Tigers in nine games, batting .516 (16-for-31) with two homers and five RBIs.
“I’ve talked about this at length, that I make my lineup every morning in my head 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 [Game 2] lineup, I’m not worried about tomorrow’s lineup. Let’s just be productive today.”