"Don't try to do too much," Girardi told Rodriguez. "Just be yourself."
Both player and manager know that the temptation to try a bit too hard will hang over Yankee Stadium all week. With Rodriguez returning from the disabled list on Tuesday, batting fourth and playing third base, his teammates and fans are expecting him -- unfairly or not -- to boost this offense back to normal levels. The Yankees have faltered lately, and Rodriguez, with his MVP-caliber bat, could provide just the antidote.
If only he realizes that they can't get it all back at once.
"There's always a danger, especially because we need wins," said Rodriguez, who hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning of Tuesday's 12-2 loss to the Orioles. "There's a lot of urgency on this team right now. But I remind myself that I've played in many games where I've gone 0-for-4 and we've won, and I've played in many games where I've gone 4-for-4 and we've lost. I've got to just stay with that theme for a little bit."
Out for the past three weeks while nursing a strained right quadriceps muscle, Rodriguez has spent most of that time at the team's Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla. -- taking swings, fielding grounders and "buying pizzas for the young kids."
He said he didn't expect the quadriceps to limit him, even while considering the wet conditions that blanketed Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
"I don't think going kamikaze on the bases is really the answer, but playing aggressive with some intelligence," Rodriguez said. "And that's hard for me sometimes."
His presence, the Yankees hope, will provide a boost for a lineup that's averaged only two runs per game over the past week without him. Rodriguez "changes the dynamics of your lineup," according to Girardi, plunking a right-handed bat right in the middle of a string of four straight lefties.
More importantly, it gives his team reason for confidence. The Yankees have always counted on Rodriguez, even if they don't want that pressure to get to him.
"If you were 30-14, you probably wouldn't have to have that conversation," Girardi said of his talk with Rodriguez. "But because we've had difficulty scoring runs -- especially this last week -- and a guy who's anxious to get his numbers where he expects them to be around May 15, sometimes you worry a little bit."
To make room for Rodriguez, reliever Chris Britton was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less