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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Roster problem stems from presence of struggling Ichiro

Ichiro Suzuki looks on during batting practice before

Ichiro Suzuki looks on during batting practice before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. (June 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Andy Pettitte comes back from the disabled list Monday night to face old friend Nick Swisher and the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium.

This is not breaking news. Also not news: That the Yankees will have to make a corresponding roster move.

Because they are carrying 11 pitchers, it is assumed a position player will go.

David Adams. Brennan Boesch. Lyle Overbay. One of you will have to turn in your playbook.

In some Yankees fan circles, this modest transaction has been treated not as one decision in a hundred the team will make this season. It has been treated as The Decision II -- as if Adams, Boesch or Overbay are going to take their talents to South Beach instead of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or (in Overbay's case) the waiver wire.

Mostly that's because Adams has become a fan favorite with his surprisingly live bat and adept play at third base. More importantly, he seems to have become a favorite of general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi.

"I think he's done a pretty good job for us," Girardi said before Sunday night's series finale against the Red Sox. "Third base is not his natural position, and he's played a pretty good third base, and he's had some good days with the bat for us."

Adams, who was not in the starting lineup Sunday night, went 2-for-4 Saturday night and emerged with a .259 average, two homers and five RBIs in 58 at-bats. The Yankees also cherish his righthandedness in a lineup that needs righty pop.

If the 26-year-old Adams is sent down Monday -- the easiest move because he will not be lost to the organization -- Overbay will be "blamed," if that is the right word.

The Yankees seem to be leaning toward keeping Overbay as insurance in case Mark Teixeira's wrist goes sour on him or DH Travis Hafner is injured (neither would be exactly shocking developments).

At the moment, Overbay is a shiny hood ornament. But if either of those players goes down, the late-spring signee would slide right in.

The real shame is that Overbay can't play the outfield. Or at least never has. Because the real roster-crusher here is the guy who replaced Swisher in rightfield.

Ichiro Suzuki is a Hall of Famer and a class act and a terrific draw for a team that needs to put fannies in the seats any way it can these days. But he's also not a very good baseball player anymore.

That the 39-year-old is taking at-bats away from the 28-year-old Boesch, and will have a roster spot in the Bronx Monday instead of Adams, is why it was folly for the Yankees to re-sign him in the offseason.

And for two years!

It was questionable at the time and becomes more so with each unproductive at-bat.

Ichiro went into Sunday night with similar numbers to Adams: .257-2-9. In 117 more at-bats.

Compare Ichiro to Boesch and it makes little sense why Ichiro was in right against Clay Buchholz and Boesch was on the bench.

Boesch was batting .275 with three homers and eight RBIs in 51 at-bats. He hasn't been given much of an opportunity to show if he can be an everyday player. He certainly hasn't been given the opportunity Ichiro has.

The Yankees face a minor decision Monday and probably will just send Adams down. But they soon may face a major decision on Ichiro.

That's the decision that would be breaking news, and in more than one country.


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