Alex Rodriguez’s future is in Hal Steinbrenner’s hands.
And currently, even with no playing time on the horizon for A-Rod, the managing general partner’s decision is that he’s not prepared to eat the approximately $27 million Rodriguez is owed between now and the end of 2017.
All of which leaves Joe Girardi to answer questions about the 41-year-old designated hitter’s prospects for playing time. They are inquiries that seem to exasperate the manager, who met at length with Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman earlier in the day at the Stadium.
“I can’t really tell you exactly when I’m going to play him,” Girardi said before Thursday night’s game.
Given A-Rod’s career numbers against Mets righthander Bartolo Colon — a .442/.448/1.077 slash line with eight homers in 52 at-bats — Thursday night seemed to be an ideal time. But Rodriguez, who didn’t take BP outside for at least a second straight game and was not seen in the clubhouse when reporters were allowed in before the game, never got off the bench in the Yankees’ 4-1 loss.
Catching prospect Gary Sanchez instead was the DH for a second consecutive game, going 2-for-4 with a double, his first career extra-base hit.
On April 26, 2005, Rodriguez hit a grand slam, a three-run homer and a two-run shot off the Angels’ Colon — in the first four innings. But that didn’t mean much to his manager.
“Those are numbers from years and years ago,” said Girardi, who referenced A-Rod’s difficulties against righthanders this season. “I think the last time he’s faced him was 2012, and before that it might have been 2007. So a lot of those at-bats were from years and years ago.”
Though Rodriguez, still stuck on 696 career homers, has been a bit better against lefthanders this season, his playing time isn’t being determined strictly by matchups. A-Rod, who has a .204/.252/.356 slash line this season, sat Wednesday night against Mets lefthander Steven Matz.
“We brought Sanchie [Sanchez] up and we said that Sanchie was going to play. We’ll probably catch him tomorrow,” Girardi said. “And I’ll go from there. The righthanders have given Alex the most struggles and we want to see what Sanchie can do. So I’m not sure [when A-Rod will play]. I can’t really tell you. I can’t give you a day.”
Would his life as a manager be easier if Rodriguez were no longer on the roster?
“These aren’t really fair questions, are they?” Girardi said. “He’s part of our club and he’s going to continue to be part of our club, that’s the bottom line. I’ll manage the players and I’ll continue to manage them the best way I feel for the club to win games.”
Asked a form of the same question a day earlier, Girardi gave the most accurate answer: “That’s above my pay grade.”
It all comes back to Steinbrenner, who is not yet ready to pay $27 million to A-Rod to go away, something Cashman bluntly stated Wednesday afternoon.
“You have to flat-out admit it,” he said on the Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio. “It’s not easy to go ahead and eat, meaning release, that kind of money. It’s not something you come to a quick decision on.”