An oddly timed benching for Alex Rodriguez

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Alex Rodriguez appears about as helpless as a week-old kitten at the plate at the moment, at least when he’s facing right-handers, but that doesn’t make it any less baffling that manager Joe Girardi chose tonight’s Game 3 to bench him.

That’s because of the four homers the Yankees hit off Justin Verlander this year, Rodriguez was responsible for half of them.

A-Rod is 8-for-24 with three homers, four walks and just three strikeouts lifetime against Verlander. Now, that was probably the old A-Rod, the one who used to make contact more than once per game. Still, he was Girardi’s choice to start Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS despite looking horrible in the ALDS. Why sit him now?

Part of it is probably that Eric Chavez has also had some success against Verlander. In fact, he was 6-for-10 with a couple of doubles against him this year. But if the Yankees wanted, they could have used either A-Rod or Chavez at DH and stuck Raul Ibanez in left field. They were benching Nick Swisher anyway. As is, they decided to give Brett Gardner his first start since April in Swisher’s place, with Ichiro Suzuki shifting from left to right.

The changes leave the Yankees with a starting nine tonight that has four homers in 207 career at-bats against Verlander. Rodriguez and Swisher, in comparison, have combined for six homers in 79 at-bats.

I’m still not against the Rodriguez benching. He’s not the same player he was even earlier this year. It’s the timing of the decision that’s the problem. Rodriguez should have taken his seat prior to Game 2.

Mike Napoli tore his ACL

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Mike Napoli suffered a torn right ACL and meniscus while playing for Triple-A Columbus the other night. The injury will require season-ending surgery.

Given that Napoli will turn 37 this year, given that he will need 10-14 months of rehab and given that, as it was, he was unable to find a major league gig, it’s almost certain that this injury will end Napoli’s career.

Napoli was off to a 1-for-24 start at Columbus after signing a minor league contract with the Indians this spring. He hit .193/.285/.428 for the Rangers in 2017. If this is it for Napoli, he’ll end his career with a line of .246/.346/.475 with 267 homers and 744 driven in. He appeared in the World Series with the 2011 Rangers, the 2013 Red Sox and the 2016 Indians, winning a ring with Boston.