Joe Girardi does not expect Alex Rodriguez to be A-problem next year. The manager was at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday to review the season and most of the questions centered on Rodriguez, who was pinch hit for three times and did not start in three other postseason games.
If it seemed Rodriguez had fallen into disfavor, Girardi took a Jeterian swing in A-Rod's favor, saying he fully expects him to be the starting third baseman in 2013. "As a player you always have a chance to rewrite things," Girardi said. "There were a lot of people that were down on Derek Jeter [in 2011], were concerned about what was going on, his productivity. We saw what he did the second half and what he did this year. You always have a chance as a player to rewrite things and make adjustments."
Girardi said he will speak to Rodriguez, but indicated there was no urgency. "That's still on the to-do list," he said. "I like to get away a little bit too, as I'm sure the players do. I really haven't done a lot of checking in on people yet. I just kind of tried to step back a little bit . . . That will take place, but it just hasn't yet."
Girardi also sought to tone down the voices, perhaps some in his own organization. "I think there were some comments that maybe Alex is not an MVP candidate, he hasn't been for the last couple of years. But as I said, you've seen players that have made adjustments that went back to being extremely productive . . . There was talk about Ichiro that he wasn't the same player. Look how good he was for us.
"Can Alex be a very good player again? Absolutely, I don't have any question in my mind because I think the desire is there. I think as far as being a heads-up player, that's there. As far as being a 45-50 home run guy, we don't see that much in baseball at all . . . I don't anticipate that's going to happen but I think he can be a very good player."
Girardi mentioned the looming free agency of several players -- Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibañez, Russell Martin are the key ones -- but would not speculate on who will return. Girardi sounded like he expects Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte to be back.
Girardi looked a bit more relaxed and refreshed than in the final days of the ALCS. But he still has his moments, saying, "It's not easy for me to turn a baseball game on and watch it right now because I feel like if we would have played to our capabilities one of those teams could have been us. That part is hard for me."
The manager also was asked if he would feel pressure as he heads into the final year of his contract. "The pressure, as you see, I put on myself because I expect us to win every day," he said. "And as you know I get a little grouchy when we don't. That's probably not going to change whether I have a contract or not. I understand how it works here and I'm OK with it. I'm expected to do the job. If I do my job things take care of themselves."