NEW YORK – Manager Joe Girardi expects big things from Alex Rodriguez and for Derek Jeter to be in the New York Yankees' lineup regardless of how much his foot aches.
Rodriguez was dropped to fifth in the batting order and Jeter shifted to designated hitter for Game 4 of the AL division series. The Yankees led Baltimore 2-1 going into Thursday night's game in the best-of-five matchup.
A-Rod was moved down from the No. 3 slot. A day earlier, Raul Ibanez pinch hit for the slumping slugger in the ninth inning and hit a tying home run, then connected for a winning homer in the 12th. Rodriguez was 1 for 12 with seven strikeouts in the series.
Matching up against Orioles starter Joe Saunders might just help Rodriguez out of his funk. He's 7 for 16 (.438) with two homers and against the left-hander.
"I expect this guy to be extremely productive," Girardi said of Rodriguez. "I expect him to have a big night for us. I do."
Jeter fouled a ball off his left foot Wednesday night, and the All-Star shortstop left the game after eight innings with a noticeable limp. He had X-rays but wouldn't reveal the results.
Jeter did not stretch on the field with the team before Game 4. During batting practice, he did not run the bases after his first turn in the cage, as is customary.
"I feel fine. I'm good. I'll go wherever he wants me to go," Jeter said after BP. "That's where I'll be. I'm good, man, so why talk about it. You play or you don't."
Jayson Nix will be the first player other than Jeter to start at shortstop in New York's 155 postseason games since 1996. Tony Fernandez started for the Yankees in 1995, when Buck Showalter was manager.
Girardi joked that it would be very difficult to fully lift Jeter from the lineup. The 2000 World Series MVP is known to play through pain and is reluctant to sit. In mid-September, Jeter bruised his left ankle and was forced to DH six times in a nine-game stretch.
"Well, you can imagine the conversation that we had today," Girardi recounted.
"Derek, how you feeling?"
"And I said to him, well, I'm going to DH you then today. Let's go through BP and see how you are," Girardi explained. "He said, 'I'm playing.' I said OK. So I'm going to let him go through BP and see how he is. If I have to make an adjustment, I have to. But my guess is, he's great," the manager said, with a smile.