BOSTON — Alex Rodriguez said he was “disappointed” not to be in the Yankees’ lineup Tuesday night, especially after Joe Girardi indicated two days ago that the designated hitter could play as much as he wanted between now and Friday. A-Rod also repeated what he said at Sunday’s news conference: “I think I can still play.”
Girardi, in walking back his comments, said he was caught up in the “emotion” of Sunday, and that Rodriguez would start only one of the games at Fenway Park, Thursday against knuckleballer Steven Wright.
“When I heard him say that I can actually play in all four games, I was really excited to get to some at-bats, and uh, I don’t know what happened,” Rodriguez said Tuesday. “I guess I play on Thursday. I came to the stadium really excited and hoping I would play all three games, and maybe two out of three. He just said, ‘We’re trying to win games.’ ”
Said Girardi: “I’m an emotional guy and my heart can get tugged at. And I think I got caught up in the emotions a little bit. I’m human. There’s a human element to me, there’s a human element to Alex.”
Girardi said the bottom line, as he told A-Rod, is putting the best team on the field. The Yankees made it clear starting in June and in the days leading up to the Aug. 1 trade deadline that they didn’t think Rodriguez fit into that.
“I’m not saying he won’t play these next two days, that he won’t be in there, but I’m managing to try and win the games, that’s what I have to do,” Girardi said. “These are very important games, this is an important series for us. This is one of the teams that we’re chasing.”
Despite his struggles this season, A-Rod seemed to bristle at the notion that having him in the lineup is incongruous with trying to win games.
“It’s surprising and shocking, he has his opinion, I have mine,” Rodriguez said. “But like I’ve said from the time I came back from my suspension (in 2015), it’s up to Joe and I’ll do whatever he wants.”
Entering the game, the Yankees (56-55) trailed the AL East-leading Orioles by seven games and were 4½ behind the third-place Red Sox.
Rodriguez has 696 homers, fourth all-time, but has only a .204/.252/.356 slash line in 62 games this season, with nine homers and 29 RBIs. He has had only seven plate appearances since July 29. He is slated to start Friday night’s game at the Stadium against the Rays. After that he will be unconditionally released, then sign a contract with the club to serve as a “special adviser and instructor,” reporting directly to managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner.
There has been rampant speculation that the 41-year-old A-Rod might try to hook on with another club, and neither he nor those around him have done much to knock it down. Girardi, however, didn’t exactly endorse that possibility.
“We started to give the at-bats to other people because of what we saw, and that’s hard for me to say because I believed in Alex, he was a guy that was always so productive for us,” Girardi said. “I don’t know if there would be a right situation out there for him. He’s going to be 42 (next July) and he really doesn’t play a position, so that’s hard for me to say.”
Rodriguez repeated what he said Sunday — that he doesn’t feel he’s being “forced” out — but also that he still can perform.
So after his release, what if another team comes calling?
“I don’t know that answer right now,” he said. “I’m content right now with how this week has gone down and I’m appreciative and overwhelmed by the emails and texts I’ve been getting. The phone calls I’ve been getting. And for a guy that screwed up so much, I feel very humbled to be in this position.”
Alex Rodriguez will have only a limited opportunity to add to his home run total at Fenway Park. The road stadiums where he’s gone deep the most:
Angel Stadium (Anaheim) 38
Rogers Centre (Toronto) 36
Camden Yards (Baltimore) 34
Tropicana Field (TB)30
Fenway Park (Boston)29