Slumping Alex Rodriguez kept his No. 3 slot in the batting order for Game 3 of the New York Yankees' AL division series against Baltimore on Wednesday night but was shifted from third base to designated hitter.
There had been some calls for manager Joe Girardi to drop down Rodriguez, just 1 for 9 with five strikeouts as the teams split the first two games in the best-of-five series.
Eric Chavez took over at third base and hit ninth, where DHs Eduardo Nunez hit in Game 2 and Raul Ibanez in the opener. Chavez was 3 for 6 during the regular season against right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, Baltimore's Game 3 starter.
"I trust our guys. I'm with him every day. I'm with their approach every day, and it's important that they trust me," Girardi said. "We played playoff baseball the whole month of September and the first three days of October. And Alex hit third and we won a lot of games with a lineup that we kept consistent and guys knew where they were at every day, and I think there's something to be said for that."
Rodriguez broke his left hand when hit by a pitch from Seattle's Felix Hernandez on July 24. He returned Sept. 3 and hit .261 with just three home runs and 12 RBIs in 111 at-bats. Including the playoffs, Rodriguez hasn't homered in 77 at-bats since Sept. 14.
Still, Derek Jeter said A-Rod has the confidence of his teammates.
"He's one of the reasons we're here," the Yankees captain said.
In 2006, Rodriguez was dropped to eighth in the order for the first time in a decade for Game 4 of the division series against Detroit. The decision by manager Joe Torre didn't help the Yankees avoid elimination, and Rodriguez went 0 for 3 as he finished the series 1 for 14 with no RBIs.
"I think whenever you move a player, it has a chance not only to affect the player, but it could affect the whole team, too," Girardi said. "There are different things that you have to worry about, and sometimes moving one player causes you to move two or three, or maybe even four, because our lineup is built around somewhat protecting our left-handed hitters from matchups. And that's a concern, too. So I know people talk about, 'Why don't you just do this?' It's not always so easy as just moving one guy when you change the lineup."
The rest of New York's batting order was unchanged against Gonzalez, with shortstop Derek Jeter leading off, following by left fielder Ichiro Suzuki, Rodriguez, second baseman Robinson Cano, right fielder Nick Swisher, first baseman Mark Teixeira, center fielder Curtis Granderson, catcher Russell Martin and Chavez. Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda was New York's starting pitcher.
NOTES: Girardi said Phil Hughes (16-13) will be his Game 4 starter win or lose Wednesday. Girardi said he didn't consider bringing back ace CC Sabathia on three days' rest. If he pitched Sabathia on short rest, Andy Pettitte would have been lined up to start Game 5 on short rest after throwing 98 pitches in Game 2, his high since coming back last month from a broken left ankle. Hughes hasn't made a postseason start since losing the sixth and final game of the 2010 AL championship series against Texas. "Obviously tomorrow is going to be a big game, either playing to stay alive or playing to move on," he said.