Is this the Yankees’ way of telling Alex Rodriguez to put up or shut up? They have their 38-year-old former MVP batting cleanup Monday against the White Sox in his 2013 debut.
It’s A-Rod’s first start for the Yankees since Game 2 of last year’s ALCS against the Tigers. Playing on a bad hip that required surgery, Rodriguez hit sixth behind Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin in that one. He wound up finishing 1-for-4 and then took a seat for Games 3 and 4 in the Tigers’ sweep, though he did go 0-for-2 off the bench in Game 4.
If Rodriguez were returning in a more traditional fashion tonight, he may well have started off hitting fifth or sixth. His .214/.333/.452 line in 42 minor league at-bats during his rehab assignment doesn’t exactly scream cleanup hitter.
Rodriguez, though, tried to dictate the pace of his own returning, putting himself at odds with the Yankees more than once. He says he’s ready, so now the team expects to prove it.
With A-Rod batting fourth, Alfonso Soriano has moved up to second in the order versus left-hander Jose Quintana. Vernon Wells is batting fifth and making his first career start at first base, not that anyone will notice.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.