After he was benched in favor of Eric Chavez for the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS against the Orioles yesterday, Alex Rodriguez is back in the starting lineup for Game 1 of the ALCS tonight against Doug Fister and the Tigers.
Rodriguez will play third base and bat sixth in his return. It certainly makes sense to put A-Rod back out there tonight, as the Yankees’ backs aren’t up against the wall anymore. Chavez went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts yesterday, so it’s not like he made a very compelling argument to stick in the lineup tonight. Still, the Tigers will exclusively use right-handers in their rotation, so if A-Rod continues to struggle, he may find himself on the bench again at some point during the series.
Here’s the full Yankees’ lineup for Game 1 of the ALCS:
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Ichiro Suzuki, LF
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Mark Teixeira, 1B
5. Raul Ibanez, DH
6. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
7. Nick Swisher, RF
8. Curtis Granderson, CF
9. Russell Martin, C
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.