Alex Rodriguez not in Yankees lineup

Alex Rodriguez was not in the New York Yankees starting lineup for Tuesday's game against the Orioles, a development that always sends up red flags throughout the Yankosphere.

But this time, the flags should be yellow, not red. Both A-Rod and Joe Girardi insist the third-baseman is not injured again, just in need of a rest after playing two days in a row following a stint on the 15-day DL with a strain of the left calf.

A-Rod entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, grounding into a fielder's choice.

"I think Joe is being cautious, I think he's being smart," Rodriguez said in the Yankee clubhouse Tuesday afternoon after engaging in a full session of pregame activities: batting practice, fielding practice and baserunning.

"He's obviously much smarter than I am because if it was up to me, I would go play 20 days in a row and just be reckless, because I love to play," Rodriguez said. "That's why he's our manager."

The omission of A-Rod from the lineup came as a surprise because he has looked good since being activated for Sunday's game. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI in Sunday's 7-3 loss to Toronto and drove in two of the Yankees' three runs, one on a towering home run, in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Orioles.

But Rodriguez knew when he left the park Monday afternoon that he would not be playing Tuesday. "He told me [Monday] night," he said. "I begged him last night, and again this morning and this afternoon. But I went 0-for-3."

Rodriguez's succession of nagging injuries -- a sore knee, a strained hip flexor and the calf strain that sent him to the DL on Aug. 21 -- has limited his playing time to 114 games and 434 at-bats entering Tuesday's game. Still, he drove in his 100th run on Monday, matching his total for 2009, and with 22 HRs is unlikely to finish with his lowest full-season career home run total (he hit 23 in 1997).

Girardi said A-Rod's "three weeks off" -- in reality, he missed 14 games -- was the reason why he chose to sit him, even though the Yankees have a day off on Thursday before beginning a six-game road trip to Texas and Tampa Bay. Then, after another day off, they head to Baltimore for three games on Sept. 17-19.

"If he had only taken like five or six days off, or maybe 10 days, he would have been in there today," Girardi said. "But I really don't want him feeling fatigued and then go out and injure something. So I thought it was best to give him today."

Girardi said he thought Rodriguez could return to playing every day after the Yankees return home from Baltimore. "To me, he's doing fine," Girardi said. I don't really see him favoring anything. We haven't seen him have to go 100 percent. But my guess is if Alex had to go 100 percent he would go 100 percent."

Said A-Rod: "I don't think there's a guy on that field who can go 100 percent this time of year."

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.