A-Rod dropped in lineup to eighth

Updated: October 7, 2006, 4:35 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- Now he's 8-Rod.

Alex Rodriguez, 1-for-11 with no RBI in the AL playoffs and stuck in a prolonged October slump, was dropped to the eighth spot in New York's batting order on Saturday as the Yankees tried to avoid being eliminated by the Detroit Tigers.

 Alex Rodriguez
Rodriguez

It's the lowest A-Rod batted since May 7, 1996, when he was a 20-year-old shortstop for the Seattle Mariners.

Not long after learning of his demotion, Rodriguez, told reporters he wouldn't discuss it and then spent time talking with Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson -- a meeting between Mr. October and Mr. April through September.

"I told him don't worry about it, Go in there and play," Jackson said. "He's happy he's in the lineup and he's got a chance to help."

Jason Giambi -- 1-for-8 in the series -- was dropped from the Yankees' starting lineup for Game 4, and Gary Sheffield was back at first and in the cleanup spot after sitting on Friday.

Looking for an offensive spark, Yankees manager Joe Torre had Melky Cabrera in left field and batting ninth. Hideki Matsui was moved from left to designated hitter.

Giambi got a cortisone shot in his right shoulder because of inflammation after Friday's game, but he said he told Torre he could play if needed. Giambi, who played first base Friday, said he got the injection so he would be ready for Game 4.

"I told Joe I was fine," he said. "It's not about me. It's about winning. I'll just go in there and hit if I get a chance to."

Facing a win-or-else situation, the Yankees had to do something with Rodriguez. their embattled third baseman, who hit .091 in the first three games of the best-of-five series. The two-time AL MVP hasn't driven in a run in 11 playoff games dating to 2004 and is batting .116 (5-for-43) in his past 12 postseason games.

"There's tension in this clubhouse. We've worked too hard this year to go home like this," said Rodriguez, who hit cleanup in Friday's 6-0 loss after batting sixth in Games 1 and 2.

If Rodriguez doesn't hit, and New York doesn't advance, would the Yankees consider trading the 31-year-old, who was acquired from Texas in 2004 for second baseman Alfonso Soriano?

Jackson, a special assistant to owner George Steinbrenner, didn't want to consider the possibility of Rodriguez being dealt. He also didn't want to ponder the Yankees losing a third straight game.

"It's about winning," he said. "I don't want to deal with the residual effect if we don't -- even me."

Torre shook up his lineup for Game 3, but the Yankees went 0-for-18 with runners on base and were blanked over 7 2/3 innings by an emotional Kenny Rogers as the Tigers took a 2-1 lead.

New York, with an All-Star at nearly every position thanks to a $200 million payroll, hadn't scored in 14 innings.

Torre is hoping Cabrera, who hadn't batted in the first three games, would recharge the Yankees' powerful lineup.

"He seems to give us another dimension," he said. "I wanted Sheff back in and Jason hasn't been swinging the bat real well. Somebody has to bite the dust."

To Jackson, Torre was more focused than usual as the Yankees prepared for a crucial game.

"I can feel his concern," Jackson said, "and when he shows concern it comes out and radiates, and that's good. When Joe gets worried, we get worried."

Meanwhile, Tigers manager Jim Leyland couldn't relax if he wanted to. Following his club's shutout win, Leyland couldn't had a restless night thinking about New York's sometimes scary lineup.

"I kept closing my eyes and all I could see was Abreu and Giambi and Jeter," he said. "One way or the other, in the next two days, it's going to be over. I'll be glad I don't have to look at them until next spring and that's a compliment. I mean, you can have nightmares.

"I was up at 4 o'clock eating M&Ms."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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