Joe Girardi: A-Rod can play every day

Updated: September 30, 2011, 2:39 PM ET
By Mike Mazzeo and Matt Ehalt | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said his sore right knee is good and ready to go after he was kept out of Wednesday night's game against Tampa Bay for precautionary reasons.

Rodriguez said he has "no concerns" about the knee limiting him with the American League Division Series beginning Friday night.

"I'm getting there," Rodriguez said about how close he is to feeling 100 percent. "No one really cares about that. Everyone on the field tomorrow is going to have some bumps and bruises. Bottom line is we're all good enough to play here and you just got to play. There's no excuses and nobody cares about that."

The third baseman said because the Yankees were playing on turf Thursday against Tampa Bay, he and hitting coach Kevin Long decided it probably wouldn't be smart to have Rodriguez play. The plan had been to get one or two at-bats, but they decided to scratch him from the lineup entirely.

Rodriguez ran into problems with that knee earlier this season as he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on it to repair a torn meniscus in July, an injury that caused him to miss 38 games. That injury played a big role in why Rodriguez played only 99 games this season.

Rodriguez also battled a thumb injury when he returned from the disabled list in August. He said that he tried to compensate too much for that injury at first by using too much of his body, but now he's feeling better and getting back to his basic swing, which is short and tight, he said.

While Rodriguez has faced injuries during the season, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Thursday he has "no doubt" that Rodriguez will be able to play every day at third base during the postseason.

"My feeling is that he'll be healthy," Girardi said. "But if he's not, that's a big player out of our lineup, or a big player that's not at the top of his game. But my feeling, if last night was a postseason game, I'm playing him. That's the bottom line.

"As I said, the time of year, we had to be somewhat cautious with some of our players, because I would hate to lose a player on the last day of the season."

Because he missed so many games, Rodriguez finished with just 16 home runs and 62 RBIs, snapping the 36-year-old's streak of 13 straight 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons. He's excited to enter the postseason and try to win his second championship with the Yankees.

"It's a new season and that's one of the great things about playing in New York, it's all about what happens late, especially in October and that's the case for me and my 25 teammates and the coaches and managers," Rodriguez said. "We play here for one reason and that's to win a championship."

Rodriguez is one of the few Yankees who played against the Tigers in the 2006 ALDS and the slugger did not remember many details from that series. Of course, that series involved Rodriguez's demotion to the eight hole in the lineup in Game 4 of the series, but Rodriguez did not recall that moment.

"That's a long time ago," Rodriguez said about the 2006 series. "I know they played very well against us; we went home I think after four games. It's a long time ago."

The slugger also embraced the team's lineup changes for the postseason during his brief conversation with the media Friday. The Yankees will likely be moving Robinson Cano up to the No. 3 hole in the lineup and dropping Mark Teixeira to the fifth spot in the order when facing right-handed pitchers. Detroit's staff features all righties.

"I love it. Whatever the skip says, it's what I'm here for and that's the one thing we try to master as a clubhouse, it's all about the team and whatever the manager says he's our leader, we follow him 100 percent," Rodriguez said. "I'm excited about the opportunity to protect Cano or wherever he puts me."

Also on the injury front, Girardi said that rookie Jesus Montero's hand is "OK."

"I saw him today," Girardi said. "He's fine. He got hit on the outside of the last two fingers. He'll have a bruise, but I saw it. There really wasn't any swelling. He's OK."

Montero left Wednesday night's game in the eighth inning after a bizarre play in which a pitch that hit Casey Kotchman on the hand caromed and hit Montero on the ring finger and pinkie of his right hand. Montero left the game in obvious pain and got X-rays at Tropicana Field. The X-rays were negative and after the game, Montero displayed his hand, which appeared neither bruised nor swollen, and insisted he would be fine for the start of the ALDS on Friday night.

"At the time it hit me, I felt a lot of pain,'' said Montero, who was making just his third major league start at catcher. "But when I looked at my fingers and I said, 'Everything's OK.' I was really scared. It feels good, good, really good. Ready to go. It will be fine."

The Yankees haven't released their postseason roster, but it is likely that Montero will make the team as a DH/backup catcher. Given that Jorge Posada characterized himself as the team's "third-string" catcher, Austin Romine would be unlikely to be included on the roster.

Mike Mazzeo and Matt Ehalt are regular contributors to ESPNNewYork.com.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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