Joe Girardi said he’s not ready to call DH a platoon position for the Yankees, nor is he ready to declare Alex Rodriguez “done.”
Still, the Yankees’ recent actions suggest otherwise.
On Monday night, Rodriguez was on the bench for a second straight game against a young righthanded starter, and all indications are that will continue. Aaron Hicks started in rightfield and Carlos Beltran, still red-hot at the plate, was the DH.
So is DH now a platoon?
“I’m not necessarily saying that,” Girardi said. “But we’re going to look at things on a daily basis.”
He added: “It’s a hard decision. Alex has meant a lot to this club over the years. But right now we’re going to do something a little bit different and see how it works . . . Things change. Nothing is set in stone.”
General manager Brian Cashman, who wouldn’t call the arrangement a platoon, said the move came about after he asked this question of the staff over the weekend:
“How can we be better?”
A significant portion of the answer included putting A-Rod on the bench against righthanders, against whom he has a .200/.236/.348 slash line with five homers and 17 RBIs in 115 at-bats. He has a .275/.327/.510 slash line with three homers and nine RBIs in 51 at-bats against lefthanders.
“We’ve got a short sprint now to the trade deadline,” Cashman said. “This team needs to declare itself as good enough and contenders, or not . . . Time is of the essence. We can’t keep treading water. I want to be a contender, not a pretender. We think we should be better than this, but we’re going to have to start pushing some buttons to make us better than this.”
Rodriguez, who entered Monday night’s game with a .223/.264/.398 slash line, eight homers and 26 RBIs in 44 games, said he was “a little surprised” not to be in the lineup a second straight game.
“I’ve said all year, all you can do is control your attitude and your work ethic, and I feel pretty good about both,” he said. “He’s trying to win games and he feels that the best lineup today is the one he put up.”
Rodriguez, who will turn 41 on July 27, hasn’t been very good this season, but the numbers are even more extreme against righthanders.
“No. 1, swinging at strikes,” he said, comparing this season to last, when he hit a team-high 33 homers and drove in 86 runs.
One opposing team scout said, “He has to cheat to get to the fastball. Because of that, when they throw him a breaking ball, he has to guess. Everything is a guess.”
Girardi, who said Rodriguez will be in the lineup Tuesday night against lefthander Cole Hamels, doesn’t believe his struggles are the inevitable, permanent slide of an older player who simply doesn’t have anything left.
“As I’ve said, righthanders have given him trouble, lefthanders he’s been pretty successful,” Girardi said. “So as far as him being done, no, I’m not saying that.”
Nor, of course, is A-Rod, who felt the 21 days he missed earlier in the season because of a strained right hamstring disrupted his rhythm.
“Look, there’s a lot of baseball to be played,” he said. “You haven’t heard the last of me.”