Yankees' Rodriguez Appears Far More Relaxed This Postseason
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Since Alex Rodriguez last appeared in the postseason, his legacy has changed, and according to those close to him, so has his demeanor. He has admitted to performance-enhancing drug use; he has had another 30-homer, 100-RBI season; and he has appeared far more relaxed.
"I hear him laughing every day," New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees hope the cycle of scorn and redemption translates into postseason performance. Before his admission, Rodriguez was most identified for his October failures. Since 2005, Rodriguez, a lifetime .279 postseason hitter, is 7 for 44 (.159) in playoff games with 1 homer, 1 RBI and 15 strikeouts.
"I just believe he's poised to have a good postseason run," Girardi said. "I can't tell you exactly what's going to happen. But he's in a great frame of mind." . . .
Originally, the Minnesota Twins announced that Carl Pavano would start Game 3. But they have since decided to wait before determining their pitcher for the first game at the Metrodome. The team might also use 15-game winner Scott Baker, who started Tuesday's tiebreaker game against Detroit. . . .
For Game 2 on Friday, the Yankees will pair backup catcher Jose Molina with starter A.J. Burnett. And that means benching Jorge Posada, who has started all but one of New York's playoff games this decade.
Why the change? Because Molina has caught Burnett in the right-hander's last six starts, during which Burnett has gone 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA.
A Man of Steal
There was surely nothing in the Colorado Rockies' scouting reports on the Philadelphia Phillies to suggest Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee was a proficient base stealer. In fact, there was no evidence of it whatsoever, anywhere. Lee had never so much as attempted to steal on any of the 10 previous occasions in his career on which he reached base.
So pardon the Rockies, and pitcher Ubaldo Jiménez, for ignoring Lee at first base in the bottom of the third inning after he had singled with two outs. Lee, however, took off unexpectedly and became just the fourth pitcher in history to steal a base in the postseason.
The last? Atlanta's John Smoltz, who did it three times in the NLCS -- once each in 1991, 1992 and 1995. Before that, the last was Brooklyn's Billy Loes in the 1952 World Series, and before that, it was Detroit's Billy Donovan in the 1908 Series.
Lee, who said he hadn't stolen a base since he played American Legion ball, credited first base coach Davey Lopes, who also coordinates the Phillies' base-running strategy, for the tip that led to the stolen base.
"That was totally him," Lee said. "By no means was I out there thinking I was going to steal a base. He told me a little pointer, I saw what was going on, and he said if you think you can get it, go ahead and go. And I did."
Surgery for Guzmán
Washington Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzmán is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Thursday.
The Nationals also announced that minor league catcher Derek Norris broke the hamate bone in his left hand and will have surgery Thursday. Norris was the Nationals' minor league player of the year after hitting .286 with 23 homers and 84 RBI at Class A Hagerstown. . . .
The New York Mets acquired minor leaguers Chris Carter and Eddie Lora from Boston, completing an earlier trade that sent reliever Billy Wagner to the Red Sox.
Harlan reported from New York. Sheinin reported from Philadelphia. The Associated Press contributed to this report.