A-Rod injury forces Yanks to shuffle lineup

SEATTLE -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi spent a couple of days patiently explaining why he thought newly acquired Ichiro Suzuki made a good fit batting eighth in the lineup.

Then Alex Rodriguez busted his left hand on a Felix Hernandez changeup. Just like that, the entire Yankees lineup is topsy-turvy.

Ichiro is batting leadoff, the spot he held for more than 95 percent of his career in Seattle. Derek Jeter, who had been batting first, is batting second. Curtis Granderson, who had been batting second, is in the fifth slot. Robinson Cano moves from fourth to third. Mark Teixeira from fifth to fourth.

Asked about the most drastic of the moves, Ichiro going from eighth to first, Girardi said given the history, it just made the most sense.

"He knows how to do it," Girardi said. "And he's swung the bat well since he's been here. It works."

Ichiro said the move was no big deal. For the bulk of his career he has been a right fielder and a leadoff hitter, and that's what he is on Wednesday, "but I'll do whatever they want me to," he said.

A splint for A-Rod: Rodriguez wasn't in the clubhouse before the game. Instead, he was undergoing care at the hands of the Mariners medics, who fitted him with a splint that he'll travel with back to New York after Wednesday's game.

The plan is that he will be with Yankees doctor Chris Ahmad on Thursday, at which time the Yankees hope it will become clearer what has to happen next.

When Eric Chavez had the same injury -- a non-displaced fracture -- with Oakland in 2004, he was out eight weeks.

"Every player is different," Girardi said. "The important thing is that when it heals there shouldn't be any (lingering issues). When he was injured last year, it was a ligament thing. And with that, the strength sometimes comes and goes."

Kudos for Matsui: The word the former Yankees left fielder and DH Hideki Matsui had been designated for assignment by Tampa Bay spread quickly through the New York clubhouse.

Matsui played for the Yankees from 2003-09, was a two-time All-Star and was the MVP of the 2009 World Series.

"He was a great player and a great teammate," Girardi said.

Ichiro, who played against Matsui in Japan before playing against him in the American League, said he has long respected how well Matsui handled himself in New York.

"He obviously played for a long time with the Yankees, and I know a player has to be a good person to last so long with New York," Ichiro said. "That is why I think so highly of him; he's a great player and a great person."

Chavy time: It seems that with A-Rod on the shelf for perhaps two months, the Yankees' first plan of attack -- at least until general manager Brian Cashman decides to bring in some other help -- will be to have Eric Chavez play regularly at third.

It's Chavez's natural position, but a long career filled with injuries have made him less supple and less of an everyday player than he once was.

That being said, Chavez said he's "ready to play" daily if needed.

All Girardi needs is to get the word from Chavez when he needs some time off.

"I'm comfortable with Chavy at third,"’ the manager said. "I'll check with him to see when he's going to need a day."