Alex Rodriguez came up with his first hit since Game 4 of the ALDS when he singled off reliever Phil Coke in the ninth inning Sunday against the Tigers. But hitting left-handers hasn’t been a real problem for him at any point this season.
In his three at-bats against righty Anibal Sanchez today, Rodriguez struck out twice and lined out to left field. He’s 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts and a walk versus right-handers in the postseason.
And now, assuming he starts, Rodriguez will face the postseason’s best righty of all when the Tigers throw Justin Verlander in Game 3 Tuesday in Detroit.
One imagines Rodriguez will play third base once again. After all, he went 4-for-6 with two homers against Verlander during the regular season. He’s 8-for-24 with three homers lifetime versus the 2011 AL MVP.
Still, it seems like Rodriguez hasn’t gotten around on a good fastball from a right-hander in weeks. Sanchez had an easy time with him for two at-bats today before giving him an offspeed pitch he could handle in his third plate appearance. To his credit, Rodriguez hit it hard, only to see it end up in Quintin Berry’s glove. Even so, it was a pitch Rodriguez may well have taken out of the park a year or two ago.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.