Sep
18

A-Rod not missing a beat since return from DL

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(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Yankees have dealt with a ton of injuries this season, an inordinate amount even when you consider the average age of the roster. Some of those injuries have been short-term bumps-and-bruises, others long-term issues that could be career-altering. Alex Rodriguez hit the DL for the fifth time in five years in late-July, after Felix Hernandez hit him with a pitch that broke a bone in his left hand. It was an unfortunate and fluke injury, but an injury nonetheless.

A-Rod had been on a bit of a tear prior to the injury, going 22-for-66 (.333) with five doubles, a triple, and two homers in 17 games (16 starts) before getting hit in the hand. Half of those 16 starts featured multiple hits. Even though he is no longer the 30+ homer, .900+ OPS hitter he was even just three or four years ago, the Yankees missed their regular cleanup hitter. The lineup suddenly lacked middle of the order depth and became very left-handed. The offense definitely lacked some balance while Alex was on the shelf.

After six weeks on the shelf, A-Rod returned to the lineup earlier this month and picked up right where he left off before the injury. He’s gone 15-for-50 (.300) with two doubles and three homers in his 13 games back, reaching base in all 13 and picking up at least one hit in 12. It’s unfortunate that Rodriguez’s return coincided with Mark Teixeira‘s calf injury — remember they brought him back after just two minor league rehab games because the lineup was going to be really short without Tex — because the Yankees are still short a power bat, but that just seems to be the way things have gone this season.

The important thing now is keeping A-Rod on the field, which is easier said than done. The Yankees had their final scheduled off-day of the season yesterday, and will wrap up the schedule with 16 games in 16 days. Derek Jeter is still nursing a left ankle problem and will occupy the DH spot for the foreseeable future, meaning Alex is going to have to play third base whenever he’s in the lineup. Joe Girardi has gone to great lengths to give his big right-handed bat regular rest, starting him in four straight games at the hot corner only twice this season: once during the NL park portion of interleague play in June, and these last four games while Jeter was the DH.

There is still no firm timetable for Teixeira to return to the lineup or the Cap’n to return to the field, so A-Rod is going to see a ton of time at third base these next two weeks simply because the team is going to need him. The race for a playoff spot (nevermind the division) is too tight to take his bat out of the lineup, especially when so many of the platoon bats near the bottom of the order have been so unproductive. Rodriguez has been an important player for the Yankees since the day they acquired him, and that will be no different in these next 16 days.

Categories : Offense

16 Comments»

  1. Better off Eddard says:

    The return of Alex and the insertion into the lineup of Eduardo Nunez has made the team stronger. Alex is the team steals leader and Nunez would be if he hadn’t been sent down. We saw both players steal 3rd in the Tampa series to get to 3rd base with less than 2 outs. No other player on the roster can bring the elements of both power and speed like Alex and Eduardo.

    Teams can no longer pitch around Robbie Cano to get to Steve Pearce and this will give Robbie better pitches to hit. Expect Robbie Cano to go on a hot streak down the stretch.

  2. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    So we have too many DH’s on the team at this point. Thinking longer term, Robbie can’t stay at 2B forever either. This could end up being pretty bad if Jeter resigns for more than a year at a time…

    Here’s to hoping for some bigger leads, so we can rest Arod for the 8th and 9th innings the next few days…

  3. Drew says:

    Fingers crossed that Alex can stay healthy and productive playing 3B during this stretch.

  4. Pat D says:

    The game has already been called.

  5. David K. says:

    For some reason, A-Rod has stopped hitting lefties for the past couple of years. So his absence against left handed pitching, at least, did not have much impact. This problem has to be solved if we are going to win in the playoffs. This one’s on Kevin Long. How can a right hand hitter be much better against right handed pitching and completely helpless against lefties?

    • DT says:

      Look at the numbers this year. Alex is destroying lefty pitching and has been okay versus righties. Alex since he got here has had weird splits where some year he dominates righties, some year he dominates lefties.

    • RetroRob says:

      A-Rod vs. lefties in 2012: .299/.391/.522/.913. His OPS+ is about 150 pts. higher against lefties than righties this year.

      So he has hit lefties this year. Plus, when he was out of the lineup not only did they lost a strong bat, it made the Yankees too lefty heavy, which created pockets of too many lefties, with weak righties like Jones mixed in, allowing the opposing manager to have the pitcher-batter advantage in too high-leverage situations.

      For his career and also this year he’s done quite well against lefties. Don’t read too hung up in fluctuations when the bigger picture is quite clear. He hits lefties and, yes, his bat was missed.

  6. dalelama says:

    Heaven forbid our $25M per year Purple Lipped non-clutch slap hitter played a few games in the field. Stop protecting this slacker.

  7. FreeAgentSignee says:

    I agree Mike.
    Welcome back Alex!

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