If you're rooting for the Orioles to complete a Division Series upset of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium later today, you probably aren't a big fan of Yanks manager Joe Girardi, but I have to admit that I'm impressed with his handling of slumping superstar Alex Rodriguez.
There's a lot at stake on a lot of levels and there are some complex issues that Girardi and A-Rod will have to work through even after the Yankees postseason is over. All of that makes Girardi's decision to pinch hit for A-Rod in Game 3 (which saved that game for the Yankees) and Game 4 and bench him in favor of Eric Chavez for today's decisive series finale an impressive display of team-first management.
"It is difficult,'' Girardi said during his pregame news conference. "He has meant a lot to the organization [and] the game of baseball over the years. And he has been a very productive hitter. But he struggled against right-handers in the series and Chavy has been good against right-handers all year long."
Rodriguez cannot be happy, especially with his good recent numbers against Jason Hammel, and there's a chance that his removal from the lineup could permanently fracture his relationship with his manager. That's a difficult thing to contemplate when your franchise is spending 15 percent of its payroll on that player.
Girardi continues to express confidence that Rodriguez will snap out of it, but he better hope that there is another playoff series ahead in which to give him that opportunity before spring training 2013.
"I hope I really have to consider this tomorrow, I really do,'' Girardi said. "My personality has always been, 'let's worry about today.' I don't need to worry about tomorrow."