If anyone thought that putting a date on the release of Alex Rodriguez would make the New York Yankees start giving him more playing time, their two games so far against the Red Sox in the series at Boston shows that manager Joe Girardi has no intention of allowing Rodriguez a few more at bats before he plays his final game in pinstripes.
Rodriguez made a pinch hitting appearance in the 9-4 win on the evening of August 10, not getting a hit, as his finale numbers are quite below his usual standard: batting .203 with .355. All this after a resurgence in 2015, that made it seem like there’s life in the old man yet, and at least enough to put him in position to get a little bit closer to the home run record. As it seems, he’ll finish with less than 700, and it’s hard to believe a team is going to sign him just to allow him to chase that record while playing poorly most of the time.
There are those who think the Yankees are simply being vindictive towards Rodriguez, but perhaps it’s just a matter of him not being good enough anymore. It’s hard to say that things between Rodriguez and the organization have been peachy for the last two or three years, but it did seem like they were able to get past the money disputes, and settle for a few more years of Rodriguez chasing the home run record, while putting up a passable performance most of the time.
Girardi, the Yankees manager since 2008, which includes winning the World Series in 2009 with Rodriguez finally getting a ring and redeeming his playoff critics with a fantastic postseason, isn’t exactly a fan of Rodriguez anymore, and he’s doing everything to show except for saying “I hate the guy” or something along those lines. He did mention that the last week or so has turned his relationship with Rodriguez into a strained one. With the Yankees out of the playoff race, most of the questions he’s been getting recently have to do with Rodriguez, and why did Derek Jeter get a retirement tour without getting benched while hitting poorly as well.
Girardi said on Sunday that he’d play Rodriguez every at-bat during his farewell week, but that hasn’t been the case. When asked about that, his answer was I got caught up in my emotions, and I apologize for that, OK? I made a mistake. I’m human. But I told you what I was trying to do. And when I was asked the other questions, I’m aware of what my quotes were, that there would be conversations and I would try to get him in every game. I said that. But what I’m saying is, I made a mistake! And I’m admitting that. And I’m admitting that to everyone who’s watching because I have a responsibility, and I’m trying to take care of my responsibility. I have a responsibility to the organization, to the team, to the players in that room, to put out what you feel is the best lineup and try to win every game.
Girardi saying he’ll play Rodriguez and then backpedaling on it only diminished Rodriguez even more this week, if it was even possible. And if anyone believes that this is just about batting and statistics, remember this: Derek Jeter batted second with the fifth-worst OPS in baseball during his 2014 retirement season. Rodriguez is doing even worse, but Girardi explained the Jeter situation by saying that he didn’t have anyone better to hit for him, while this season, he has guys as replacements for Rodriguez; players he wants to try out.
But Aaron Hicks? Hicks is batting .192 this season with a .555 OPS through 259 plate appearances, hitting four home runs. In short, he’s doing worse than Rodriguez. Girardi didn’t have an answer to that, and simply went back to his ‘best lineup’ comments: My job description does not entail a farewell tour. My job description is to try and win every game and put everyone in the best possible position, and that’s what I’m trying to do.