Alex Rodriguez could drop in order

Updated: October 10, 2012, 11:32 AM ET
By Matt Ehalt | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi has not ruled out moving struggling third baseman Alex Rodriguez down in the lineup for Wednesday's Game 3 of the ALDS.

Girardi maintained that he hasn't made a decision on the lineup yet. After Monday's 3-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Girardi said he did not plan on making any changes "right now."

But Girardi did not reiterate that point on a conference call Tuesday when asked about moving Rodriguez, who is 1-for-9 in the series.

"I think that we're going to do whatever it takes to win this three-game series," Girardi said. "Nothing that we do will be something that is just a knee-jerk reaction. We talk about different things, and whether it's a pitching change or pitching situations, the great thing about this is I have a great group of guys that's very unselfish, and they really want to win. And that's what we're going to do -- what we think is best to win."

In fact, a source tells ESPNNewYork.com's Ian O'Connor that the Yankees are "seriously considering" moving Rodriguez down from the third spot in the order.

In Game 1, Rodriguez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, although he did walk and scored a run to tie the game in the fourth inning.

Rodriguez struggled even more on Monday night, going 1-for-5 and striking out twice, including once to end the game. He also lined into a double play in the first inning when the Yankees had two runners on and no outs.

While Girardi defended Rodriguez on Monday, saying the third baseman squared up two balls, his third baseman continues to falter in a prime position in the lineup.

Since his fantastic showing in the 2009 postseason, Rodriguez is just 10-for-59 (.169) with zero home runs and six RBIs in 16 games. He has not hit a postseason home run in his past 70 at-bats, dating back to Game 3 of the 2009 World Series.

Rodriguez has batted third or fourth in every postseason game since he was famously dropped to eighth in Game 4 of the Yankees' ALDS loss to the Tigers back in 2006. Girardi said emotional aspects have to be taken into account when making a lineup change, just like strategy and statistics are.

"We know that we're in a three-game series, and whether you need to pinch hit for someone, you need to make a pitching change, you need to change the lineup a little bit, our guys understand," Girardi said. "We have a veteran group that understands that we're going to do what we think is the best thing to win.

"Of course, you have to take in a lot of factors. Sometimes it's just not as easy as just writing a name or taking a guy out, a pitcher out. You have to think about the emotional part. You always have to think about that as a manager. But being a three-game series, our guys know what's at stake, and we have to win two games."

In what will be a pivotal Game 3 on Wednesday, the Yankees will face Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez, whom Rodriguez has never faced. Making any lineup change, though, might be difficult because several of Rodriguez's teammates have not had success against Gonzalez, who is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA at Yankee Stadium this season.

Second baseman Robinson Cano, first baseman Mark Teixeira, right fielder Nick Swisher and center fielder Curtis Granderson are a combined 0-for-21 against Gonzalez. Cano has batted fourth, Swisher has batted fifth and Teixeira has hit sixth during the series, while Granderson has batted seventh and eighth.

With the lack of success against Gonzalez by those hitting behind Rodriguez, as well as a lack of hitting by most of the team's lineup save for Teixeira, shortstop Derek Jeter and left fielder Ichiro Suzuki, Girardi will have to make a tough call if he opts to move Rodriguez down a few spots.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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