Slumping New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will watch Friday's American League Division Series elimination game from the bench. The team posted the Game 5 lineup on Twitter with no sign of Rodriguez, who started each of the first four games.
Yankees ALDS Game 5 lineup vs. Baltimore twitter.com/YankeesPR/stat…— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) October 12, 2012
Instead of A-Rod, the Yankees will play veteran Eric Chavez at third base. Game 3 hero Raul Ibanez will also slide into the starting lineup to serve as the designated hitter as Derek Jeter returns to shortstop. The other members of the lineup remain intact.
While Yankees manager Joe Girardi has struggled on deciding what to do with Rodriguez throughout the series, sitting him for Game 5 isn't a major surprise. New York needs its best nine hitters in the lineup, and he isn't one of them right now.
Rodriguez is just 2-for-16 in the ALDS with no extra-base hits or runs batted in. He's struck out nine times—including twice in the team's Game 4 loss, which forced the win-or-go-home scenario.
Chavez actually outplayed A-Rod during the regular season, hitting just two fewer home runs despite receiving nearly 200 fewer at-bats. His OPS of .845 was 62 points higher, so it's not like the Yankees are putting an unproven player in the lineup.
The 34-year-old former Oakland Athletics stalwart hasn't gotten on base in five plate appearances during the series, though.
Girardi knows he's opening himself up for criticism with the move, but he did the same thing a couple nights ago by pinch-hitting for Rodriguez with Ibanez, and it worked out to perfection. He's hoping lightning strikes twice.
He will send ace CC Sabathia to the mound to face Game 1 counterpart Jason Hammel, who has been a great find for the Orioles. New York won the first meeting 7-2, thanks to a ninth-inning explosion.
If the Yankees win again and advance to the ALCS, they'll have done it without A-Rod in the starting lineup.