A-Rod’s vacancy prompts lineup shakeup
After being successful in getting Ichiro Suzuki to bat in the bottom third of the order, Yankees manager Joe Girardi felt compelled to move Ichiro back into his familiar leadoff spot Wednesday as a measure in combating the loss of third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken bone in his left hand that is likely to sideline him from four to six weeks.
With A-Rod, who has alternated between third and fourth in the order, out of the lineup, Girardi re-worked it by dropping Derek Jeter from leadoff to second and Curtis Granderson from second to fifth with Robinson Cano in the 3-hole and Mark Teixeira at cleanup.
Taking Rodriguez’s place on the field was Eric Chavez, who batted seventh behind designated hitter Raul Ibanez. For the time being, Girardi will probably go with a platoon of the left-handed hitting Chavez and righty-swinging Jayson Nix at third base. Nix had been a utility guy, a role that now goes to infielder Ramiro Pena, who was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Pena flew to Seattle from Charleston, S.C., to join the Yankees, who were to return to New York on a charter flight after the game. That means Pena will cover almost 5,000 air miles in less than 24 hours. He could have some case of jet lag Thursday.
How deeply the Yankees will search into the third base market remains to be seen. Remember, they are committed to A-Rod for five more seasons after this one, so going out and trading for a front-line player with a salary to go with his status is problematical. Don’t forget, the Yankees went with a platoon of Ibanez and Andruw Jones in left field during most of Brett Gardner’s absence, and that worked out well. Perhaps Chavez-Nix will be the same.
Jeter, who hit his eighth home run in his first at-bat as a 2-hole hitter, is plenty familiar with the second spot in the order. Wednesday marked the 1,306th game in which Jeter has hit second. He has batted leadoff in 922 games, including 94 this season. He was doing a terrific job at the top of the order, batting .348 in 155 at-bats leading off innings, .413 in 92 at-bats leading off games and .308 in 403 at-bats overall. Before Wednesday, the only position in the order that Jeter hit this year other than first was seventh as a late-inning defensive replacement for Nix in Sunday’s 5-4, 12-inning loss at Oakland. The Captain was called out on strikes in his only 7-hole at-bat.