HOUSTON — If Alex Rodriguez had one role left with the Yankees, it was to serve as right-handed designated hitter against left-handed starters. But Yankees manager Joe Girardi left Rodriguez on the bench in favor of Carlos Beltran against lefty Astros starter Dallas Kuechel last night at Minute Maid Park.
Girardi explained it as a move to keep Beltran’s hot bat in the lineup. “Carlos has played every day,” Girardi said. “This will be his 11th day in a row. Keuchel has been pretty tough on Alex, but it’s more about trying to keep Carlos in the lineup every day, and I feel this is the best way. There’s a good chance he’ll DH every day here.”
Rodriguez chose to keep his conversation with Girardi private, but he said he recently initiated conversations with the Yankees sabremetrics experts to see what he could improve and has made an adjustment that leaves him optimistic.
“A lot of the numbers are trending in the right direction,” Rodriguez said. “For the first two months, my mechanics were completely out of whack. I think I’ve found something. I’m excited to put it into play.
“There were a few our sabremetrics department showed me. The last 30 games, strikeouts were 3 to1 to walks, 15 games was 2 to1, and the last four or five games, it was one to one. My chase rate went down from 44 percent to about 22 percent, and I’m starting to get the ball up in the air a little bit more. The numbers don’t lie. Unfortunately, I haven’t been hitting with any luck, but I am getting the ball up in the air, which is a good sign.”
Rodriguez hit a solo home run on July 18 against Baltimore, a shot he cited as evidence of improvement. But he was 2-for-23 on the past homestand and is hitless in his past 12 at-bats.
Asked about the prolonged nature of his troubles, Rodriguez said, “I’ve had 200 chopped-up at-bats. You put in three weeks of DL time in there. It’s a very small sample. I think my bat speed is coming back, my recognition is coming back, and I think there will be great things to come, not only this year, but next year.”
Asked if he had seen any improvement in Rodriguez after the adjmustments he’s made, Girardi said, “He has tried to make some mechanical adjustments. I’m aware of those, yeah…It’s a day-by-day thing. His time is going to come. He’s going to get more chances.”