DETROIT -- Once again, the Yankees face an elimination game. And once again, Alex Rodriguez will not be in the starting lineup. The third baseman addressed reporters before Game 4 of the AL Championship Series. What follows is a transcript of his answers. Questions have been paraphrased for clarity:
What's your reaction to everything? "I'm obviously not doing summersaults. I'm not happy about it. Obviously, you come to the ballpark feeling like you can help the team win. And when you see your name is not in the lineup, you're obviously disappointed. You've just got to shift to being a cheerleader and also make sure you're ready when you're number's called."
Where are you long-term with the Yankees? "I'm really focused on today. Obviously, this is the biggest game of the year for us and we're focused on winning one game and going from there. My thoughts are not anywhere outside of that little box."
Were you ready to pinch-hit last night? "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was getting ready from the sixth on. I was ready. Was ready to roll."
What were you thinking when Nick Swisher went on deck to pinch hit in the ninth instead of you? "I wouldn't read too much into it. I was taking swings from the fifth inning on. I was ready to hit and I was just waiting for my number to be called."
Are any other factors keeping you out of the lineup aside from struggling against righties? "I don't want to speculate. You know, Joel, I've played this game for a long time. Bottom line is any time I'm in any lineup, I think that lineup is better and it has a better chance to win. I don't care if it's an All-Star Game. I feel I can bring that type of impact and I'm also at any point ready to break through. I felt my at-bats in some of those games got a little bit better. I hit two rockets. And anytime I'm in the box, the game can change, and everyone knows that."
Again, is there anything else going on that's keeping you out of the lineup? "It's a fair question. I don't like to, I don't want to overthink it. I come out to the park, I get ready, I play until the last out is made. One thing I never do is I never quit and I just keep competing to the end."
Are you being punished for the report of you flirting with women in the stands during Game 1? "Look, I addressed that yesterday and I said it was laughable. I've been here a long time here in New York and I think nine years. And I've never addressed anything from Page Six, I've never addressed anything from blogs or gossip columns. We're here to cover baseball. Some of the criticism out there is very fair and I can live with that. But some of the other stuff is not fair. And you just move on. You don't worry about it too much. I've been in New York a long time."
Has this damaged your relationship with manager Joe Girardi? "I think Joe and I, the one thing I'll give Joe a lot of credit, he's been very good to me over the years so he has a lot of equity with me. For me, it's just tough. I'm a competitor. That's all I've known since I was five years old. My dad played baseball as well. And I love to compete. I really feel in my heart, anytime I'm in that lineup, the team is a better team without a question. So, we'll disagree there today. And I like Joe, I support Joe. Our job right now is to come together, come together like a family. There's tons of distractions, there's a lot of wedges trying to be driven between us and it's not going to happen. We're here to win a game. Our focus is to win a game tonight. I will be ready. I will be available. If we win tonight, I like our chances."
Considering your resume and track record, do you think that you deserve a chance to fight your way out of this on the field? "Wally, if I had no resume or a resume, I always feel like I deserve a shot because I have tremendous confidence in my ability and I feel like I started swinging the bat better at home. And I feel like at any point, any time I'm in the box, I think there's damage in the near future. That's just the way I feel. I've never changed that feeling."
Thoughts on the series? "It's been a very tough series. We're 0-3 and very easily if we scored three runs per game we could be 3-0. So our pitchers have done a phenomenal job. We've had some things, a lot of things go against us, but the bottom line is the series can change. I've been in a situation where it's changed quickly so we can take one tonight and go from there."
And the team is in the right mindset? "I think so. I think we're very confident. And again, I think we've won four games in a row many times this year."
Do you want to stay a New York Yankee? "I love the Yankees. I love this organization. My focus Joel right now is to help this team come together and win a game, to not allow any of this negativity, and questions, and gossip stuff, or this crap or that crap. It's just focus on winning a game and go from there."
Have you seen the reports on trade talks with the Miami Marlins? "Look, there's blood in the water. If you don't play well, I haven't played well. And like I said, some of the criticism I've received, like I said I've been here nine years, I can take that. Well deserved. But that other stuff, gossip or Page Six, I don't give a (expletive) about that. What I will tell you is that I hope nothing's going on like that at this point because our only focus from the top to the bottom is to win a baseball game tonight."
Does this team have the heart to win four games in a row? "Without question... absolutely."
The organization has always preached trust with players. Do you feel that trust has been lost? "We trust each other. I mean, look, I trust my ability. I trust my teammates. This thing can turn with one swing, with one win, with one bounce. So I think we have a.) the confidence and the ability, and I think it starts with one game."
Could people on TV see you wearing a sweatshirt on the bench and think you're not ready to pinch-hit? "Do I look ready now? Yeah I was ready. Were you ready?... The bottom line is I don't really care what you're looking at on TV. I know that my preparation started in the fourth inning. And it will start earlier than that today. And I was ready. And Joe and I spoke in the background."
When is the next time you see yourself starting a game for the Yankees? "I was hoping you could tell me."