New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi looked like a genius Wednesday night for finally pulling the slumping Alex Rodriguez for a hot-hitting Raul Ibanez. The journeyman Ibanez almost single-handedly won Game 3 of the ALDS — but that doesn't mean the struggling A-Rod won't be back in the starting lineup for Game 4.
Girardi said this morning he 'expects' Rodriguez to start against left-hander Joe Saunders in Game 4 in Yankee Stadium, according to The New York Post.
"I am going to make those decisions when I get there (Yankee Stadium), but I expect (him to play)," Girardi said at a Delta Airlines promotion at LaGuardia Airport.
Yankees fans, who felt vindicated for calling for the demotion of Rodriguez all week, might have to watch the struggling A-Rod fan his way through a couple of more at-bats. He had two more strikeouts last night and has seven in the three game series so far.
Girardi put down his computer stat sheets long enough last night to make one of the biggest decisions in his Yankees career when he pinch-hit Ibanez for his $29 million slugger in the ninth-inning with the Yankees trailing 2-1. Ibanez hit a monstrous home run to tie the game and in the 12th, lined another solo shot into the right field seats for a walkoff game-winner.
A more pressing issue for Girardi might be the status of Derek Jeter's injured left foot. The Yankees Captain fouled a ball off his foot in the first inning and limped through the next eight before Girardi replaced him with Jayson Nix in the top of the ninth.
After the game, Jeter claimed he would "be all right" for Thursday's game but Girardi isn't taking any chances.
"I am not sure what he's going to do. I want to see what Derek's doing today and I'll make my decisions when I get to the Stadium," the manager said.
Girardi might have a little tougher time getting Jeter to sit on the bench — especially during a playoff series.