DETROIT (AP) — Alex Rodriguez was dropped from the Yankees' starting lineup again Wednesday, this time with New York facing elimination and his future with the team still to be resolved.
Trailing 3-0 in the AL championship series against Detroit, the Yankees also benched slumping center fielder Curtis Granderson.
Rodriguez, only 3 for 23 in this postseason, was out of the lineup for the third time in New York's nine playoff games. The star third baseman also has been pulled for a pinch hitter three times.
"We will go forward. Alex will go forward," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said before Game 4 was postponed because of a forecast of heavy rain. The game was rescheduled for Thursday.
"That doesn't mean that he's done, that he's finished, that he is not capable. He is still a big threat, but for whatever reason right now we are adjusting to what we are seeing," he said.
Whether the Yankees keep him on the bench or put him in another postseason game, "it doesn't mean by doing so we're not going to have to deal with legitimate questions," Cashman said.
"That's all for another day," he said. "All we are concentrating on is the here and now and what is best for us today."
The 37-year-old slugger with 647 career home runs didn't like his seat in the dugout.
"I'm not happy about it. Obviously, you come to the ballpark feeling you can help the team win. When you see your name is not in the lineup, it's obviously disappointing," Rodriguez said Wednesday night. "You've got to accept being a cheerleader and also make sure that you're ready when you're number's called."
While Rodriguez was surrounded by a pack of reporters on the field Wednesday, some Tigers looked on in bewilderment as Detroit took batting practice.
"I've played this game for a long time and bottom line is, anytime I'm in any lineup, I think that lineup is better. It has a better chance to win," A-Rod said.
"I don't care if it's an All-Star Game. I feel I can bring that type of impact and I'm also at any point ready to break through. I thought my at-bats in some of those games got a little bit better. The last two, I hit two rockets. Anytime I'm in the box the game can change and everyone knows that," he said.
The firestorm may not end any time soon. He has $114 million and five years remaining on his contract — and a no-trade clause.
"You know, the one thing about this game, as we've all appreciated over time, is that you're going to have some good times and you're going to have some tough times," Cashman said. "But when you're going through the tough times, it doesn't have to be the end-all and be-all. Opportunities will exist to continue to get back off that mat and get back in the ring and battle."
Yankees president Randy Levine and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria joked last spring about sending A-Rod to Miami. The conversation took place when the Yankees played a pair of exhibitions to open the Marlins' new ballpark.
"Alex is Mr. Miami," Loria told him.
"Take him. Tell me what you're willing to do," Levine said before the pair laughed.
Said Levine Wednesday: "It's funny. You can't even joke with somebody anymore."
Cashman flatly denied that the team has had trade discussions concerning Rodriguez.
He said manager Joe Girardi has the final say on the lineup, but a move like benching Rodriguez is discussed higher in the organization as well.
"The relationship I have with the manager is strong, and we always — that's the way I want it to be," Cashman said. "We always go through what the lineup should be and how it should look we think. He asks my opinion. He asks his coaches' opinion, and that's the way it's been."
Granderson joined A-Rod on the bench after another hitless night Tuesday dropped him to 3 for 29 in the postseason. Granderson hit 43 homers with 106 RBIs this season.
"These are also the guys that got us the best record in the American League and put up the highest run total in our league, or one of the highest run totals in our league, so they're also the reason for a lot of good that's taken place," Cashman said.
"But in the short-term right now it's been bad. Is that a true snapshot of what their contributions are and who they are as players? It's not. But it's certainly something we're dealing with and living with right now, and we're doing everything we possibly can to make the adjustment and get it going," he said.
Nick Swisher, who was benched in Game 3, returned to the lineup in right field. Eric Chavez started at third base in place of Rodriguez. Brett Gardner started in Granderson's normal spot. Shortstop Derek Jeter is out for the season because of a broken ankle.
"It's not that I want to sit Alex Rodriguez," Girardi said. "But the struggles have continued, like for some other players as well, and I've sat some other players as well."
Rodriguez has looked particularly overmatched against right-handers, going 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts in the postseason. Detroit's entire playoff rotation is right-handed, including Game 4 starter Max Scherzer.
In Game 3, Girardi let Raul Ibanez hit against left-hander Phil Coke in the ninth inning, and Ibanez struck out to end the game. The switch-hitting Swisher — not Rodriguez — was in the on-deck circle preparing to pinch-hit.
"I was ready to hit, and I was just waiting for my number to be called," Rodriguez said.
A New York Post report, citing an unidentified witness, said A-Rod flirted with two attractive female fans near the New York dugout after he was pinch-hit for late in Game 1 against Detroit.
"I addressed that yesterday and I said it was laughable," Rodriguez said Wednesday. "I do think that some of the criticism out there is very fair, and I can live with that, but some of the other stuff is unfair."
Donald Trump offered his two cents Wednesday, calling Rodriguez "selfish" on Twitter but saying Girardi should play his normal starters.
"They got you there," Trump tweeted.
Rodriguez said he's still supportive of Girardi, and he didn't want to speculate of what this postseason could mean for his future in New York.
"One thing I never do is I never quit, and I just keep competing until the end," Rodriguez said.
With the Yankees trying to stave off the end of their season, Girardi and Cashman apparently felt they were better off without A-Rod in the starting lineup.
"We're not afraid to make calls. We're hoping we're going to make the right ones," Cashman said. "But, hey, you are in a position to make decisions, and you have to make tough ones. I don't think we are afraid to make tough ones. We'd rather be in a position where you can run it all out there and it is nice and easy and it's going to work at all times, but that's not the nature of the beast of baseball."
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.