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All-Star Brett Gardner says Alex Rodriguez deserves to be here

New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez greets

New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez greets centerfielder Brett Gardner after his three-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the fifth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 7, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

CINCINNATI - Brett Gardner wouldn't go so far as to use the word "snubbed" when it came to Alex Rodriguez and the All-Star Game.

But he left little doubt where he stands on the matter.

"Alex has had a great year. He's definitely comeback player of the year the way he's swung the bat and been in the clubhouse with us," Gardner said during AL media availability Monday. "I feel like he deserves to be here."

Gardner, however, added the obvious that always comes up when it comes to all-star games in any sport: Sometimes there simply aren't enough spots.

"There's a lot of guys that deserve to be here that aren't," said Gardner, added to the AL roster by manager Ned Yost. "I don't want to say he was snubbed. I wish he was here but I'm sure he's going to enjoy the break."

Said three-time All-Star Mark Teixeira: "There's a lot of guys that are deserving. There's probably five or 10 guys that have the numbers to be here, but there's only a certain amount of spots, so that's the way it is."

A-Rod entered the season a huge question mark, to the point that Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled him aside before spring training and told him he would have to "earn" whatever playing time he got.

Rodriguez played two games in the field early in the season but Girardi quickly pulled the plug on that, resulting in a quick adjustment to the role of everyday DH. A-Rod put up a .278/.382/.515 slash line in the first half, with 18 homers, second-most on the team, and 51 RBIs, third-most.

"I don't think anyone knew what to expect," Gardner said of preseason expectations for Rodriguez. "But I don't think anyone's ever questioned his ability to hit a baseball. He was born to do that."

Gardner said he did not think A-Rod's 2014 suspension for PED use or flurry of lawsuits, including one against the Players Association, had anything to do with his being left off the All-Star team.

"None of that seems to come up anymore, whether it's inside the room or outside of the room," Gardner said of the controversies. "I don't think that necessarily had anything to do with it all. I think it had to do with other guys having good years. It's a numbers game. But I know he's real happy where he's at physically. He's really adjusted well to the DH role and he's been a big piece of our lineup. It would be nice if he was here, but I know he's happy with where he's at right now."

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