A-Rod continues to ride the bench

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A-Rod continues to ride the bench

DETROIT -- Not long ago, he was considered The Best Player in The Game, and as such, was paid accordingly. It was widely assumed that before too long, he would also be baseball's new home run king.
When he enjoyed a fabulous post-season in 2009 -- .365.500.800 -- when the Yankees won the World Series, he seemed to exorcise the lone black mark against him: that he couldn't perform on the October stage.
But that seems like a long time ago for Alex Rodriguez.
Now, Rodriguez is the game's most overpaid role player, as likely to be out of the lineup as in.
Wednesday night, with the Yankees trailing the Detroit Tigers three games to none and facing elimination, Rodriguez was out of the starting lineup for the second game in a row and third time in the last five games. Eric Chavez got the start at third base instead.
Before Wednesday, the Yankees had played nine post-season games and Rodriguez was benched for three and pinch-hit for in three others.
Is this any way to treat a player in the middle of a 10-year, 275 million deal?
A look at the stat sheet suggests: yes.
Rodriguez was 3-for-23, a .130 batting average. All three of his hits were singles. Against righthanded pitching, Rodriguez has been completely hapless, hitless in 19 at-bats with 12 strikeouts.
So, again, he sat.
"We will go forward,'' said Yankee GM Brian Cashman, "Alex will go forward. One thing about this game is that you're going to have some good times and you're going to have some tough times. But when you're going through the tough times, it doesn't have to be the end-all, be-all. Opportunities will exist to continue to get back off the mat and get back in the right and battle.
"Alex is going to wait for that opportunity.''
For now, Cashman said Rodriguez would be used only against lefties. One problem: all four of the Tigers starters are righthanded, meaning his only chance to see playing time will come late in games, against a lefty relievers.
"That doesn't mean that he's done, that he's finished, that he's not capable,'' insisted Cashman. "He is still a big threat, but for whatever reason, right now we're adjusting to what we are seeing.''
What the Yankees are seeing, however, isn't exactly a new development. Against righthanded pitching during the season, with a very ordinary .717 OPS.
Rodriguez was asked what being benched in back-to-back playoff games had done to his relationship with Joe Girardi.
"Joe has been very good to me over the years,'' said Rodriguez, "so he has a lot of equity with me. For me, it's just tough. I'm a competitor. It's all I've known since I was five years old. And I love to compete and I really feel in my heart that any time I'm in the lineup, the team is a better team, no question. We'll disagree there today, but I like Joe and I support Joe.
"And I will be ready, I will be available.''
What puzzles some is that others -- Robinson Cano, for example -- has been given the chance to break out of his slump, while Rodriguez has been banished to the bench.
"(Even) if I had no resume,'' said Rodriguez, "I always feel like I deserve a shot because I have tremendous confidence in my ability and I feel like I started swinging the bat better at home and I feel like anytime I'm in the box, there's damage in the near future. That's just the way I feel. I never changethat feeling.''
Being benched, however, wasn't the only bad news for Rodriguez this week.
A report in the New York Post Monday suggested that Rodriguez had spent some of Game 1 of the ALCS flirting with two women behind the Yankee dugout, attempting to secure their phone numbers.
Then, Wednesday, numerous reports surfaced that Yankees president Randy Levine had spoken to the Miami Marlins recently about taking Rodriguez -- and the remaining five years, 114 million still due on his contract -- off the Yanks' hands.
"There's blood in the water,'' shrugged Rodriguez.
And the game's highest-paid star on the bench.

Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

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Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games. 

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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."