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Alex Rodriguez benched for ALDS Game 5

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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Cue those "A-Benched!" headlines again because Alex Rodriguez is not in the New York Yankees starting lineup for Friday's ALDS Game 5 against the Baltimore Orioles.

Are you happy now, Donald Trump?

A-Rod will be replaced by Eric Chavez at third and he won't be the designated hitter because Game 3 hero Raul Ibanez is starting in that spot. Robinson Cano bats from the No. 3 spot, one night after Mark Teixeira displaced A-Rod from that position.

Joe Girardi told reporters that A-Rod is not injured and that the benching was strictly performance based. Orioles starter Jason Hammel is a righty and A-Rod has not performed well against righthanders all season.

"As I've talked about a little bit, it has been a struggle against the right-handers," Girardi told reporters. "(Chavez) has been a guy that we've played against a lot of right-handers and has been pretty successful, so it's a tough decision — there's no doubt about it, because of what he's meant to our club. But I just thought with the struggles that he's had, I'm going to go with Chavy. He said he's ready to help when he needs to help, and let's win today."

That means the $300 million man's only option to impact the game is through a pinch hit opportunity against a lefthander, even though Rodriguez was the one getting pinch hit for each of the last two contests. He's performed poorly the first four games of the series, going 2 for 16 with nine strikeouts and no extra base hits. His only spot in the highlights have come when he high-fived Raul Ibanez after the 40-year-old saved the Yankees in the ninth inning of Game 3 with a home run after pinch hitting for A-Rod.Still, to bench your $29 million player for the biggest game in your team's season? When he's still owed $114 million over the next five seasons? That's not just a small move of strategy by any means and would seem to indicate that the Yankees feel comfortable moving fullspeed ahead into the era of A-Rod just eating up dollars on the bench.

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Then again, A-Rod could eat dollars at the plate while giving the Yankees a better chance to lose, so maybe it's not a hard decision at all.

"You can't think about that now," Girardi said of future ramifications. "You've got to think about winning a game. This is not June. This is October."

A-Rod actually owns some very impressive career numbers against Hammel, going 8-f0r-24 with four homers and four walks in 29 plate appearances. But his inability to get a solid swing on righthanded pitching these days would appear to make his previous success against Hammel a moot point.

Make sure all your bases are covered this postseason ...
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