MINNEAPOLIS - The morning after the fifth three-homer game of his career, Alex Rodriguez found himself on the bench.
And he was OK with that.
"I believe Joe [Girardi] has a plan that hopefully takes us through November," Rodriguez said Sunday, the day before his 40th birthday. "I believe in Joe. I believe in the plan and I never question it."
And because Girardi's plan coming into this three-city, 10-game trip was to give A-Rod a day off Sunday, three-homer performance or not, Rodriguez was sitting Sunday.
"I could either do it here or in Texas," Girardi said of the four-game series his club will begin Monday night in Arlington against the Rangers. "And I know we're going to see at least two lefthanders in Texas . . . so I chose to do it here."
The Rangers have announced lefthander Matt Harrison as Monday night's starter and lefthander Martin Perez for Tuesday night.
Girardi said it was not difficult to stick with his decision after A-Rod's performance Saturday night.
"I was either going to do him or Tex, and Tex has been swinging extremely well, too," Girardi said of Mark Teixeira, who entered with 14 hits in his previous 26 at-bats before going 0-for-4 as the DH Sunday. "So it was kind of 50-50 how I was going to do it, so I chose this way."
As for turning 40, A-Rod has been all smiles. After launching three homers that each went at least 420 feet -- including a 480-foot shot into the third deck at Target Field -- Rodriguez said of the impressive distances: "I don't know what it tells me, but it's fun. There were days when I was in my 20s I couldn't do that. It feels good to do it right before my 40th birthday."
A-Rod, hitting .277 with a .375 on-base percentage, 23 homers and 58 RBIs, said this birthday doesn't come with any angst or trauma.
"I think all of that happened for me last year," said Rodriguez, suspended for all of 2014 because of PED use and his involvement with Biogenesis. "It was a good time for me to pause and get a full understanding about making smart choices and surrounding myself with good people and really appreciating everything that life and baseball has to offer."
As he has multiple times, Rodriguez credited Girardi with his resurgent year. The manager's input actually began during A-Rod's lost 2014.
"Girardi's been a big part for me," Rodriguez said. "A lot of people don't know this, but he stayed in touch with me throughout the year last year, and that meant a great deal to me. He also was always very encouraging and helped me a lot."
Much of that contact came while A-Rod and the Yankees were at odds, something Girardi has consistently managed to stay out of.
"My job, I always feel, no matter what the circumstances, is to get the best out of a player," Girardi said. "He's in our clubhouse and my job is to get the most out of the player, and that's what I try to do. It is sometimes a fine line because I am considered management, but I deal with players on an everyday basis and I think it's different."