A-Rod singled out, but struggles pervade lineup

A-Rod singled out, but struggles pervade lineup

A-Rod singled out, but struggles pervade lineup
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's struggles during the American League Division Series have been prominent, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi also entertained making other moves to shake up his lineup before Game 5 on Friday.

Girardi mentioned second baseman Robinson Cano (2-for-18), right fielder Nick Swisher (2-for-15) and center fielder Curtis Granderson (1-for-16) among his struggling performers, but Girardi said he decided to stick with everyone but Rodriguez.

"We have some guys struggling, there's no doubt about it," Girardi said. "Robbie has struggled. Swish's numbers don't indicate his at-bats. I think Swish's at-bats have been pretty good. He's lined out, he's hit balls hard, he hasn't chased a lot of balls. I think Swish's at-bats have been pretty good.

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"Grandy has struggled. The big thing for Grandy is to swing at strikes. If he swings at strikes, he's going to do damage. [Rodriguez] was the only change I decided to make."

Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said that, by his count, Granderson had chased a team-leading 16 pitches out of the strike zone in the first four ALDS games. Cano and Rodriguez were second on the roster with 15 chases.

"It happens," Long said. "You see, it's not just our team. It's the guys that are struggling on the other team; when they get antsy up there and they get out of the zone, their success rate is going to go way down.

"It's pressing. Some of it's trying to get a hit. I think the bottom line is, when you know what's happening with two strikes, you know they're trying to expand and get you to chase. You've got to realize that and do a better job of it. That's it."

Girardi said that he didn't consider starting Brett Gardner in left field and moving Ichiro Suzuki to center because Gardner has played sparingly after returning from right elbow surgery performed in July.

"He's had three at-bats since April 28," Girardi said. "I don't think it's fair to put him in that situation, because we don't know what we're going to get from Gardy. I'm a big fan of Gardy's, and I saw what he did the last four seasons and how he's played for us, but he just hasn't played."

Raul Ibanez entered New York's Game 5 lineup as the designated hitter, batting fifth, and Girardi acknowledged he could have played Ibanez in left field and benched Granderson against Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel.

"Grandy has had some pretty good at-bats off him this year, he really has," Girardi said. "And I thought if you think of doing that, OK, who is going to DH?"

Girardi also said that he expects Derek Jeter to be ready to play shortstop in Game 5, two days after suffering a bone bruise to his left foot that forced the Yankees captain to DH in Game 4.