NOAH TRISTER,AP Baseball Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Alex Rodriguez was benched twice for the same game.
Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson were still out of New York’s starting lineup for Game 4 of the AL championship series on Thursday, a day after the game was postponed by rain.
New York trailed 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.
The Yankees kept their lineup the same as it would have been Wednesday — with Rodriguez on the bench for the third time in nine postseason games. A-Rod is 3 for 23 with no RBIs in these playoffs.
“There’s really not a whole lot to change because of rain,” Girardi said. “Our decisions aren’t made on a whim.”
Granderson joined Rodriguez on the bench after another hitless night in Game 3 dropped the center fielder to 3 for 29 with 15 strikeouts. Granderson hit 43 homers with 106 RBIs this season.
“I wasn’t in yesterday. I didn’t expect it to change. I’ll be ready whenever they need me,” Granderson said. “My swing is OK. It could be better, but it is OK. It’s hard to get a lot of hits when you are swinging at pitches out of the zone, and that’s the big problem right now. It’s a lot simpler if you swing at strikes.”
Nick Swisher, benched in Game 3, returned to the lineup in right field. Eric Chavez started at third base in place of Rodriguez. Brett Gardner started in Granderson’s normal spot.
Chavez is 0 for 14 in the postseason.
“His at-bats have been OK,” Girardi said. “I thought he got the barrel of the bat to (Detroit ace Justin) Verlander three times.”
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.
Rodriguez’s rocky postseason — he’s also been removed for a pinch-hitter three times — raised questions about his future with the Yankees. He has $114 million and five years left on his contract, which includes a provision that he can’t be traded without his approval.
“I feel he can help us. I don’t worry about rumors. Any time you have a player of Alex’s stature, it’s going to be a hot-button,” Girardi said. “No one knows what tomorrow holds for any of us.”
New York ace CC Sabathia was slated to take the mound Thursday against Scherzer.
In Game 3, Girardi let Raul Ibanez hit against left-hander Phil Coke in the ninth inning, and Ibanez ended the game by striking out. 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 Wednesday. “Any time I’m in any lineup, I think that lineup is better and has a better chance to win. … Any time I’m in the box, the game can change, and everyone knows that.”
Wednesday’s rainout also put the Yankees in a tough position with their starting rotation, making it less likely that Sabathia would be able to start Game 7 if the series lasts that long. Phil Hughes left Game 3 in the fourth inning with a stiff back, but Girardi says the prognosis on him is good.
“We believe that he’s going to be OK, and he could be available,” Girardi said.
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