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
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.