Alex Rodriguez has been benched again by the New York Yankees, who also dropped center fielder Curtis Granderson from the starting lineup while trying to avoid elimination Wednesday.
The slumping Yankees trail 3-0 in the AL championship series against Detroit. Manager Joe Girardi has juggled his lineup throughout the postseason, trying to find the right combination.
"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 before Game 4 on Wednesday night. "You've got to accept being a cheerleader and also make sure that you're ready when you're number's called."
Rodriguez, who is 3 for 23 in these playoffs, is out of the starting lineup for the third time. The star third baseman also been removed for a pinch-hitter three times in New York's nine postseason games.
"I really feel in my heart, anytime I'm in that lineup, the team is a better team, without a question," he said.
While Rodriguez was surrounded by a pack of reporters on the field Wednesday, some Tigers looked on in bewilderment during Detroit's batting practice.
Granderson joins 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.
Nick Swisher, who was benched in Game 3, returns to the lineup in right field. Eric Chavez starts at third base in place of Rodriguez. Brett Gardner is starting in Granderson's normal spot.
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. "Any time I'm in any lineup, I think that lineup is better and has a better chance to win. ... Anytime I'm in the box, the game can change, and everyone knows that."