One man didn’t apologize and another will claim his ego wasn’t hurt, as an ESPN New York report states that New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi reached out to Alex Rodriguez by phone to discuss the postseason benchfest.
The circumstances are widely known at this point and the fallout is clear. Rodriguez was lifted for a pinch-hitter (Raul Ibanez) in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles. Ibanez drilled a game-tying home run off Orioles closer Jim Johnson and from that point Girardi had freed himself of tiptoeing around the former slugger.
It remains to be seen what would have happened from that point on had Ibanez failed to produce. Surely Girardi would have received some questioning of the move, but it all turned out really well for the Yankees in that game as Ibanez later homered again to win the contest.
Once Girardi showed his lack of confidence in Rodriguez in a crucial spot, he then began to sit the 37-year-old third baseman against right-handed pitchers. He sat three more games including the final two American League Championship Series games and was pinch-hit for in the others. To put Girardi’s lack of confidence in another light, the player he kept starting in A-Rod’s place, Eric Chavez did not get a hit in the entire postseason (0-for-18).
Getting back to the conversation, the anonymous source told ESPN New York that Girardi did not offer an apology, much like he declined to do in his final press conference of the season. Girardi stated then that his decisions were not snap ones and he deliberated on them using information from the entire season and recent trends he was seeing from Rodriguez at the plate, namely that he couldn’t touch tough right-handed pitching.
Instead of an apology, Girardi offered some advice to Rodriguez. Work on your game. Maybe not in those words, but more or less that is what he said. The Yankees would have a hard time trying to move Rodriguez without eating a vast majority of his remaining salary (five years/$114 million) so they are going to do their best to prop him back up. Girardi apparently told Rodriguez he is a major part of the 2013 team, again something he spoke of after the Yankees were swept in the ALCS by the Detroit Tigers.
As for Rodriguez, he maintained throughout the playoffs that he was fine with the moves, claiming he would stick by Girardi’s decisions and do whatever is best for the team. He began to get a little more vocal and defensive as the ALCS waned saying he felt the team was better with him on the field, but reiterated that he was not upset with Girardi.
Any player would be upset with the benching and since Rodriguez is a lightning rod for drama it became instantly amplified to the point that many wondered when the blowup would occur. It never did. A-Rod’s salary and past indiscretions put just about every move he makes or doesn’t make in the limelight. To Rodriguez’s credit, he stuck to his guns by saying he supported his manager and Girardi to his as he continued to claim the benchings were baseball decisions and nothing else. Each man has been saying outwardly that it is time to move on and worry about next season.
The first step was a formal conversation and not a passing one in the clubhouse or by text. Two men airing it out. Girardi stipulated what he expected and Rodriguez we can only guess promised to work hard in the offseason and get back on track. Hopefully, for Rodriguez’s sake, he gets off to a hot start or else Girardi’s got a precedent to uphold and the once superstar will be reduced to a platoon player.