ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has been shut down for at least three days because of a troublesome left thumb that has been hindering him for the past three weeks.
"I'm not sure what happened. It's just sore to a point where I can't do real damage out there to help the team win," Rodriguez told reporters at his locker before Saturday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels.
"It's better than it was the last time I sat out with it, but there's definitely a difference between being hurt and playing through bumps and bruises. With bumps and bruises, I can still do serious damage out there. But the way I am right now, I don't think that's possible."
The 36-year-old Rodriguez, two home runs shy of Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth place on the career list, acknowledged that he is unable to make a significant contribution to a lineup that entered Saturday leading the AL in majors with 201 home runs and had a 2 1-2 game lead on the Boston Red Sox in the East Division.
"It's as frustrating as it's ever been, because my knee feels really good and the rehab went well," Rodriguez said. "The last think you expect is to have a freaky thing like this, where you roll over on your thumb. So hopefully, we take the most cautions approach and I can get back to what I'm doing in the middle of the lineup. When you can't help the team, then you have to do what's smart."
The 14-time All-Star and three-time AL MVP has been limited to 90 games, much of that because of arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He is hitting .284 with 15 homers and 56 RBIs. With 19 games left in the schedule after Saturday, this will be the fewest number of games Rodriguez will play in the past 16 seasons. He is in the fourth season of a 10-year, $275 million, contract he signed after opting out of his contract during the 2007 World Series.
"We're trying to get him going. And when he's taking these breaks, it's hard the get going and get on that consistent roll," manager Joe Girardi said. "That's the frustrating part, but we have to find a way to get through it. He talked about it after the game last night, that it was bothering him, so we decided to shut him down for three or four days."
The Yankees have managed to stay afloat despite significant playing time already lost by Rodriguez, shortstop Derek Jeter, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, among others.
"We've done it all year," Rodriguez said. "I mean, we had our number two and three starter go down, we've had our seventh-inning guy go down, our shortstop and third baseman go down, and everyone at one point or another has stepped up. This is no different. I think we have good depth. Those guys will be tested, but those guys are ready to do a good job. We're at a pivotal time now, so this is the only window of time to rest it — and then we have to strap it on and go."
Nine different Yankees have spent time on the disabled list this season, and the beleaguered Girardi has used 43 different players. He fielded a patchwork lineup Saturday that had Eric Chavez filling in for Rodriguez, catcher Russell Martin starting in place of Francisco Cervelli, and infielder Eduardo Nunez starting in the outfield for the first time in two big league seasons while right fielder Nick Swisher sat out his second straight game because of a pain in his left elbow.
"He's got a little bit of tendinitis, so he'll be day-to-day" Girardi said. "That's something a little rest and treatment will take care of."
It was the second straight day in which Cervelli was in Girardi's original lineup — only to be scratched hours before gametime due to concussion-like symptoms stemming from his home plate collision with Nick Markakis in Thursday's loss at Baltimore in a makeup game.