Posted on July 26, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez has had to adjust to diminished playing time as of late, sitting out against right-handed starting pitchers. But he’s now looking down the barrel of a full week or more out of the action, as the Yankees say he will not be in the starting lineup for any of the team’s three games against the Houston Astros this week, including a game Monday in which the Bronx Bombers faced left-handed starter Dallas Keuchel.
After sitting A-Rod in games Saturday and Sunday against the San Francisco Giants, even declining to use him as a pinch hitter Sunday for the struggling Aaron Hicks against a left-handed reliever, Yankees manager Joe Girardi chose to use Carlos Beltran as the DH Monday night against the left-handed Keuchel instead of Rodriguez. Even with A-Rod being 1 for 12 with five strikeouts in his career against Keuchel, it was a change from what has become routine for the Yankees.
“I’m trying to keep Carlos going. Carlos has played every day; this will be his 11th day in a row,” Girard said, explaining his benching of A-Rod on Monday. “Keuchel has been pretty tough on Alex, but it’s more about trying to keep Carlos in the lineup every day and I feel this is the best way.” The Yankees won’t face another lefty until Saturday at the earliest, and that’s if the Tampa Bay Rays don’t reshuffle their rotation due to a potential trade. That would appear to be the soonest A-Rod would return to the lineup.
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His continued absence is only fueling speculation that A-Rod’s days in the Bronx could be coming to an end, despite having one more year left on his contract. Reports surfaced last week indicating the team was considering cutting both Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in the event they also sell off a few assets before the August 1 trade deadline. Those trades started Monday when the Yankees sent Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs, and could also include Beltran at some point. GM Brian Cashman has disputed those reports, saying: “That is something that is not being considered right now.”
Through it all, Rodriguez remains optimistic, saying that he has found a flaw in his swing that has him starting to turn things around. “I am optimistic. I’m excited, my body feels great,” Rodriguez explains. “I recognize I did not have a good swing the first three months, but I recognize that I’m moving better and the metrics and numbers are moving in the right direction. I’m super excited to get out there and hopefully do a little bit more of what I did last week, which is drive the ball.”
A-Rod believes advanced metrics indicate he’s swinging the bat better, and he knows he’ll get another chance to play at some point. “I am working hard,” he said. “The one thing in baseball is there’s a lot of games. Opportunity will come and I’ll be ready when my number is called.”
Cashman applauds the fact that A-Rod is not giving up on himself or his team. “Say what you want about Alex Rodriguez and the current season he’s having,” Cashman said. “This guy is coming every day to prepare, bust his tail, do the pregame work, put himself in a position to succeed, wait to be called upon, support his teammates.”
Of course, when Girardi will put him back in the lineup and give him that opportunity remains unclear. If Beltran is traded, it could open up the DH spot for Rodriguez to play more. But until that happens, Rodriguez figures to continue to ride the pine no matter who’s on the mound.