It is Alex Rodriguez's 37th birthday on Friday and Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez decided to get the former Mariner a gift.
Unfortunately, the gift isn't returnable. It's a broken bone in the left hand, which came when Hernandez hit A-Rod with a pitch in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's 4-2 Mariners victory.
The injury will keep Rodriguez out of the lineup for at least a month, a loss that is doubly painful because it comes at the exact moment that A-Rod seemed to be shaking off his year-long aversion to hitting anything like the A-Rod of old. He has 15 hits in his last 43 at bats, including six of the 30 extra base hits he's managed all season.
Even the outs Rodriguez was making recently were on hard hit balls, a sign that his timing and approach were on point after months of his swing being slightly off here and there. Barring a serious change to his diagnosis, he should return with enough time to play off any rust but there's no guarantee that he'll be able to hold onto the recent productivity.
If there's a bright side to losing your starting third baseman for a month, it is that the Yankees actually have a bench to turn to for help this season. Eric Chavez has been a consistent contributor to the team this season and will step into the third base job with Rodriguez out.
While you wonder if Chavez can remain as offensively helpful in increased at bats, you fear the chance that Chavez, whose injury history inspired Samuel L. Jackson's character in "Unbreakable," will join Rodriguez on the disabled list. Fittingly, the bright side isn't all that bright.
Rodriguez's injury was definitely the news of the night, but the faction that believes Joe Girardi creates more problems than he solves as Yankee manager definitely got some fodder on Tuesday night as well. Girardi got antsy in the eighth inning, resulting in four pitching changes that led to an insurance run for Seattle even though Freddy Garcia had thrown just 89 pitches in what had been a strong start until that point in the evening.
If Girardi turned to David Robertson, you wouldn't argue even if he gave up four runs. Alternating Clay Rapada, Chad Qualls, Boone Logan and Cody Eppley doesn't give you an advantage on Sweaty Freddy anywhere outside of Girardi's binder, though.
Girardi also stuck with Raul Ibanez against Mariners lefty Lucas Luetge in the other half of the eighth inning, a curious choice given Ibanez's limited exposure to and nonexistent success against lefty pitching. Going to Andruw Jones would have meant Seattle went to a righty, but at least Jones occasionally hits the ball out against same-sided pitching.
On another night, Girardi's mad machinations would be worth more discussion. A-Rod's injury is the thing that matters now, however.
It isn't about rehashing the loss that already happened, but about avoiding more losses in the future. A-Rod's injury makes that a little harder for the Yankees.
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