Joe Girardi says batting David Phelps eighth was strategic

David Phelps pitches against the Red Sox. (Aug. David Phelps pitches against the Red Sox. (Aug. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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DENVER - The manager insisted he wasn't trying to "reinvent" the game.

The lineup Joe Girardi submitted Wednesday night caught plenty by surprise as, in a move that rarely occurs, he batted his pitcher, David Phelps, eighth and his catcher, Austin Romine, ninth.

Girardi, who played a season for former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, a proponent of the tactic, said first and foremost it wasn't a reflection on the rookie Romine, who has struggled with the bat.

Instead it was simply a reflection of the obvious regarding his injury-depleted team.

"If I had my normal lineup, it probably wouldn't happen," Girardi said before the game. "My normal lineup's in Tampa [rehabbing]."

And so Girardi said the unorthodox move -- according to Elias the last time a Yankee pitcher batted eighth was Don Larsen Aug. 28, 1957 -- was strategy.

"With the lefties they have in the bullpen, obviously the guys we're going to pinch hit are lefthanded so it separates from having three lefties in row," Girardi said. "No. 2, the second time through the lineup Robbie's basically your third hitter. We're trying to get Robbie as many at-bats as we can."

That would be Robinson Cano, who batted second.

"It made a lot of sense when he explained it to me," Girardi recalled of the conversation he had a number of years ago with La Russa. "He did it so there were a bunch of hitters in front of Albert [Pujols]. That was the bottom line. So I'm trying to put more hitters in front of Robbie Cano, but also getting him as many at-bats as possible."

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