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Rounding Third: A-Rod situation doesn't make sense

By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - This Alex Rodriguez stuff is just mind boggling.

Actually mind numbing is more like it.

Just when you think this story couldn't get any stranger, the New York Daily News unearths a little gem that according to Detroit manager Jim Leyland, Rodriguez was actually in the lineup for Wednesday's scheduled Game 4 with the Tigers.

Of course, the actual lineup did not have Rodriguez playing.

"Is something else going on over there with A-Rod?" Leyland asked the Daily News before the game was postponed by rain Wednesday. "I got two lineups from them, one with him in it and the second one with him out."

That's the million dollar question, Jimmy.

Why on earth is Rodriguez not in the lineup with the Yankees facing elimination? Maybe it's crazy, but wouldn't you want to go down swinging with the lineup that won you 95 games?

"I really feel that in my heart, any time I'm in that lineup, the team is a better team, without any question," Rodriguez said. "We'll disagree there to the end, but I like Joe. I support Joe. Our job right now is to come together like a family. There's tons of distractions, there's a lot of wedges trying to be driven between us, and it's not going to happen."

There has to be something bigger going on here. Pinch-hitting for Rodriguez is one thing. Not playing him in an elimination game is entirely different. He isn't Nick Swisher. This is Alex Rodriguez, three-time AL MVP, owner of 647 home runs and probably the biggest reason that Joe Girardi wears that 2009 World Series ring.

It's not as if Rodriguez had a bad season, either. He hit .287 with 18 home runs and missed two months because of a broken wrist. Sure, he's looked awful in the playoffs, but few Yankees hitters haven't. Why is A-Rod getting all the heat?

Girardi may have been able to sell the A-Rod benching had he had Eduardo Nunez at third. Granted Nunez plays the position as if his hands are tied together, but at least he may have injected some life into a lineup that has been woefully awful this entire postseason.

But, it's Eric Chavez getting these at-bats in place of Rodriguez. Eric Chavez. The same Eric Chavez who has gone 0-for-14 in these playoffs. The same Eric Chavez, whose error at third base cost the Yankees what turned out to be the winning run in Tuesday's Game 3 loss. The same Eric Chavez who is on the verge of breaking the Yankees record for most at-bats without a hit to start the postseason.

That is the guy Girardi wants instead of Rodriguez, who, by the way hit, the ball as hard as he had all series in Sunday's Game 2 loss. Slump or not, at the end of the day, he's still A-Rod.

"I'm obviously not doing somersaults," Rodriguez said. "I'm not happy about it. Obviously, you come to the ballpark feeling that you can help the team win, and when you see your name is not in the lineup, you're obviously disappointed. You've got to just shift to being a cheerleader and also make sure that you're ready when your number is called."

There has to be something else going on. Could it be that Yankees management is miffed that Rodriguez was flirting with a couple of girls after being taken out in Game 1?

If that's the case, and it very well may be considering the two lineups scenario on Wednesday, then this is just a case of the Yanks cutting their noses off to spite their face. And if that's what's going on here, well, then Girardi has bigger fish to fry.

Let's be honest, Rodriguez is not the first ball player to flirt with someone at a game. Is it more magnified because it's A-Rod? Of course, but let's be real here. To say he's not a "true Yankee" because of it is absurd. What does that even mean anyway?

There is no saying more played out than "doing things the Yankees way." Can you imagine the outrage if it had been Rodriguez who was reportedly giving girls in the New York area goodie bags with signed memorabilia as a token of his appreciation, rather than Jeter, the quintessential "true Yankee"?

You want the Yankees way? Use your Google machine and see how the beloved Mickey Mantle conducted himself at Yankee Stadium. A former Yankees public relations czar has a nice little handwritten letter from the Mick, further exemplifying what a class guy he actually was.

The Yankees way. Give me a break.

Something just doesn't pass the smell test. There has to be more to this story.

Maybe it's time the Yankees and Rodriguez part ways. He's never been accepted and it's getting harder to believe he ever will, despite the fact he's won two MVPs in his time in New York and was the driving force behind their only World Series title in the last 10 years.

New York has never been an ideal fit for him. He'd have been better off going to Boston back in 2004. Imagine how much different things would have been if the MLBPA would have allowed him to accept that first deal?

It's easy to say trade him, but he is a player who turns 38 next season and is still owed $114 million over the next five years. There's probably not a huge market, especially when you consider the excess baggage that also comes along with it.

The first of five million potential trade rumors surrounding Rodriguez surfaced on Wednesday, linking the Miami Marlins to the slugger. That is one team that makes sense since Rodriguez is from the area, but at this stage in the game, take everything you hear with a grain of salt.

Is he that big of a problem the Yankees would likely have to eat $85-90 million in a potential deal? That is more than some teams' entire salaries.

There is no doubt Rodriguez will be the biggest story of this offseason. But right now he's the biggest story of the postseason. Unfortunately for him, it appears he won't have a say in how it's going to end.

10/18 10:59:28 ET


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