NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi was flailing as badly as his batters were all day. When Girardi becomes flustered on the news conference podium, it usually belies a bigger concern.
So a question that could have been swatted away with a little finesse riled up the manager after the New York Yankees lost 3-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays. He lost his poise and perhaps revealed his actual thoughts.
A question about the impact of the moves bothered Girardi so much because he knows it is fraught with issues, even if he won't fully publicly admit it.
When the Yankees begin games that way, they may have a designated hitter who can't hit that much anymore and a right fielder who can't field much anymore.
It's not what you want, to borrow the manager's pet phrase.
Rodriguez and Beltran are two all-time players, but they are older, and Girardi is trying to manage whether and/or how he’ll limit Rodriguez's time.
After Thursday's loss, the Yankees are 8-17 with Rodriguez and 14-7 without him. Those numbers aren't entirely about Rodriguez at DH and Beltran in right.
Perhaps it is just coincidental. Shout out, small sample size and all! Still, Girardi has good reason to worry about his regular formation.
Upon his return, Rodriguez went 0-4, dropping his average to .184 in 76 at-bats. Beltran has hit .322 with a 1.123 OPS in 59 at-bats as a DH this season, the majority of those at-bats coming with Rodriguez on the DL.
Beltran was back in right and went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, which was bad enough for Girardi to watch, let alone be asked about it. Before a reporter could finish his question, Girardi cut him off.
"I'm sure it had to do with him being in right field," Girardi said before quickly adding how bad Beltran performed the night before. "He was 0-for-4 yesterday. Let's not keep stirring this and stirring this and everything we over-evaluate. Carlos had a rough day. A lot of our right-handers had a rough day. Alex is going to DH. Carlos is going to DH some, too."
No one with any sense thinks that Beltran struck out four times because he played right field Thursday. Starter J.A. Happ was very good.
What Girardi has to figure out -- especially with a 22-24 team that needs to squeeze out every win -- is whether his best lineup on most nights is with Beltran at DH and Aaron Hicks in right or Beltran in right and Rodriguez at DH.
When Girardi goes with the Beltran and Rodriguez combination, the manager usually brings Hicks in late for defense, thus losing his best hitter, Beltran. If he benches Rodriguez, the Yankees are better defensively throughout the game, while having a superior DH. Rodriguez will hit for more power than Hicks, but Hicks, at .198, gives you more when he is on-base.
Considering Rodriguez has been a less-than-.200 hitter for nearly half a season worth of games, dating back to last season, is it the right call to play him? At most, Rodriguez should play four or five times a week for his health and for his bat speed.
The problem for Girardi -- who likes his stories neat and boring -- is that this involves Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez, and the media (yes, guilty as charged) tends to focus on the most famous Yankee. So even in the pregame, Girardi was annoyed about a rather innocuous question about Rodriguez's playing time.
"He is my DH," Girardi said of Rodriguez. "We DH Carlos, as well. We felt that [Rodriguez] maybe wore down at the end of last year. The chances of me playing him seven, eight days in a row are probably not very good. But right now my plan is for him to be my DH. Carlos will play right field and DH, as well."
Rodriguez continues to play the good soldier. He just returned from the DL and he feels refreshed, but he will do what is asked.
"I don't need rest now," Rodriguez said. "I've been resting for three weeks. Usually, Joe makes the right calls. I'm just excited to be playing baseball and get back and contribute."
Beltran, who would one day like to be a manager, handled his 0-for-4 with more tact than Girardi. Here’s how the slugger described his day at the plate:
"Beautiful," Beltran said with a little smirk, the coolest guy in the room.