NEW YORK -- As promised, Alex Rodriguez was back in the Yankees' starting lineup on Monday night, playing third base and hitting in the cleanup spot for the first of three games against the Orioles.
Rodriguez got a rare day off -- his first of the season -- when the Yankees beat the White Sox, 12-3, on Sunday. Manager Joe Girardi said it was a routine off-day before admitting that Rodriguez had felt "a little stiff" on Saturday. Rodriguez said the pain was more like a cramp in his right leg.
"I don't know if I needed a day, but Joe thought it would be better in the big picture," Rodriguez said.
The Yankees initially planned to give Rodriguez a half-day by making him the designated hitter on Sunday, but Girardi decided it was best to give A-Rod the full day off. With Saturday's game taking place in the afternoon, two days before Monday's night game, the decision essentially gave Rodriguez 48 hours off.
Rodriguez said he went so far as to call Girardi on Saturday night to get back in the lineup as the DH on Sunday, but that the manager stuck with his decision after sleeping on it.
"I hope he comes back feeling refreshed," Girardi said. "That was the point of giving him the day off."
Rodriguez has averaged 150 games per year in his 14 full seasons and has played in 161 games or more five times -- including three years with 162 games.
"You hate to sit out," Rodriguez said. "The idea of 162 is what you want to do."