A meaning for these meaningless gamesBy
Now that Joe and I got what we had to say about The Collapse off our chests, it’s time to turn our attention back to the Yankees. These last two games against Tampa mean nothing to them in the grand scheme of things, and the only stuff left to address are the margins of the playoff roster, the backup catcher situation and the last one or two arms in the bullpen. And then there’s Alex Rodriguez.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, A-Rod has developed a bit of an injury problem since signing his massive, so ugly I don’t even want to cite the numbers contract after the 2007 season. First came the quad strain in 2008, then the hip in 2009, then the calf in 2010, and this year it was both a knee and a thumb. Alex hasn’t played more than 138 games in any of the last three seasons, and he sure as heck won’t get there this year.
All the missed time hurts not only because A-Rod is out of the lineup, but also because he’s typically been a slow starter once he does rejoin the team. Following that storybook first-pitch homer after his hip surgery, A-Rod had just two hits (both singles) in his next 29 plate appearances. The calf strain limited him to a .200/.250/.467 batting line over a 64 PA stretch. Since coming back from the knee surgery, he’s hit just .197/.338/.364 in 80 PA, but that includes all the time he was hampered with the thumb problem.
“I never get into results,” said A-Rod on Monday. “It’s more about balance and plate discipline. I feel I’m right on schedule.” Hitting coach Kevin Long acknowledged that Alex’s “timing is off,” adding that they are working on his leg kick, among other stuff.
All we’ve talked about for the last week or two is rest, getting these players off their feet a little bit after the six-month regular season and before the playoffs begin. Well A-Rod has already had a ton of rest in the second half between the knee and thumb issues. There are only two games left in the regular season, and it’s probably not the worst thing in the world for the Yankees to let their cleanup hitter play all nine innings in both games. Rodriguez can use the at-bats, so these last meaningless games don’t have to be completely useless for him.