Given the opportunity he wanted, a chance to prove himself against right-handed pitchers after being benched against righties for consistently lousy streaks, Alex Rodriguez did not deliver.
Rodriguez got the start at designated hitter Wednesday night against Texas after Carlos Beltran, the Yankees’ best slugger as of late, had to sit out a day after suffering a hamstring injury. A-Rod went 0-5, grounding into a double play in the first and later grounding out to a chorus of boos from the crowd in the eighth inning.
Rodriguez maintains he’s okay with his work. “I’m very encouraged,” he said. “I’m working hard before and after games, I’m watching video here, I’m watching video at home. I’m excited, I feel like I’m getting close. I thought tonight overall was a solid night, swinging at strikes.”
The Yanks rallied for a 9-7 win over the Texas Rangers on a walk-off home run by Didi Gregorius in the bottom of the ninth, but it was a same-old, same-old showing for Rodriguez, a player fighting for his job and hoping to make a case to be a regular in the lineup regardless of the opposing pitcher.
“That’s why we continue to play him because we know he’s capable of doing that,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game. “We know he’s capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark. He’s used to hitting in the middle of the order and driving in runs and that’s why I put him where I put him.”
Rodriguez has been a much different hitter depending on the nature of the opposing pitcher. He is batting .200 with 17 RBIs and five home runs in 41 games and 115 at-bats against right-handers while hitting .259 with 10 RBIs and three homers in 23 games and 54 at-bats against lefties.
His chances to prove himself at the plate are increasingly fewer, especially as Rodriguez, who doesn’t play the field, and the Yankees travel to face the San Diego Padres Friday. There will be no DH against the host Padres.
“For me, I’m just thinking about each game, each at-bat,” said A-Rod. “I was excited about my last at bat, good opportunity there, and the result was not so good [a solid shot lineout.]”