A-Rod Answers Start Coming Friday

Another injury done, the Yankees will start figuring out what they have in A-Rod

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Sep 15, 2011  |  Updated 7:52 AM EDT
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The Yankee hitters was obviously as tired of the late starting West Coast games as everyone back in New York, so they didn't bother showing up for work in Seattle Wednesday night.

Jason Vargas and three relievers allowed nothing more damaging than a Nick Swisher solo home run and Luis Rodriguez jacked his average up to .198 with a walkoff homer in the 12th to give the Mariners a 2-1 victory. Ivan Nova pitched okay and the Red Sox lost, so the loss to the Mariners was fairly innocuous in the general scheme of things.

The Yankee players were on the field, but it seemed like their heads had already started the trip to Toronto, perhaps because they were looking forward to getting Alex Rodriguez back in the lineup after a week off to rest his aching thumb. Four runs in two nights against Mariners pitchers who didn't win the Cy Young last year will have you happy to see any kind of offensive assistance, although it is hard to know just what the Yanks will get with A-Rod.

He's had just 75 plate appearances since the start of July and, unsurprisingly, hasn't looked very good in any of them. It is hard to develop much of a rhythm at the plate when you are battling injuries, sitting out games and playing so infrequently that there are probably a few young kids who think Eduardo Nunez is the regular starting third baseman for the Yankees.

All of the time off seems to be taking its toll on A-Rod. He broke up with Cameron Diaz, perhaps because all the free time gave them a view of each other unavailable when you're playing games every night of the week or perhaps all the time off gave one of them a chance to play games every night of the week.

Either way, it's good for A-Rod to be back in the lineup as much as possible for the rest of the season. He needs to knock the rust off and get his game in shape for a playoff run.

The question is how good it will be for the Yankees to get A-Rod back? We know that a healthy A-Rod is a big positive for the lineup, but no one can be sure if you're going to get such an A-Rod at any point this season.

An unhealthy one is still going to be sitting in the middle of the lineup and, based on the last three months, that might be a drag on a Yankee offense that has done pretty well without him in the mix. Dropping him is a bit too much theatre -- whether in the lineup or out of it entirely -- so the Yankees are going to have to hope for the best because they have no real safety net.

That uncertainty means that you have to plan for the possibility that A-Rod won't be able to play the field in October while also accepting that he's going to have to be in the lineup every day. That impacts the chance to keep Jesus Montero on the postseason roster since A-Rod would be the DH and it all but guarantees that Jorge Posada will be left at home.

We'll have to see how that plays out and we'll have to see how A-Rod's bat reacts to a thumb injury that's going to linger for however long the Yankees hang around this season. All in all, it is a lot of questions for a player who has been as sure a thing as anyone in baseball for most of his career.

The answers will have a lot to do with where the Yankees go this season, which means it is nice that we're done with the middle of the night starts so that everyone can see for themselves what those answers turn out to be.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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