Alex Rodriguez has broken hand

SEATTLE -- New York Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez fractured his left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

"It's a tough blow," a somber Rodriguez said about an hour after the Yankees' 4-2 loss.

Rodriguez's left hand was heavily wrapped, and he'll fly back with the team after Wednesday's game and be checked out by the Yankees' medical staff on Thursday.

"I never thought it was a fracture, but it was," said Rodriguez, who has been diagnosed with a nondisplaced fracture of his left fifth metacarpal.

Rodriguez grabbed his left hand with his right after being hit and never let go even as he fell to the ground, writhing on the dirt near home plate.

Eric Chavez, who will be the man manager Joe Girardi will have at third base in the series finale Wednesday afternoon, has been down this road before.

"They told me it would be six to eight weeks," Chavez said while recalling his own injury. "It was eight weeks to the day that I got back."

The fact that the Yankees have lost five of six to start this trip on the West Coast was nothing compared to the loss of the No. 3 hitter in the lineup for a couple of months.

Rodriguez, who is is batting .276 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs this season, had just talked Monday about finally feeling good at the plate. Girardi had echoed those words, and now this.

"It's nondisplaced, which is good," Girardi said. "But we're going to have to make some changes, which is too bad, because Alex was just starting to feel good again."

The pitch from Hernandez was a 91 mph changeup and was the third pitch of his to find a New York batter. Hernandez hit three of the final five batters he faced, hitting Ichiro Suzuki in the seventh and Derek Jeter before Rodriguez in the eighth.

Jayson Nix served as a pinch-runner for Rodriguez and left-hander Lucas Luetge came in for Hernandez. Facing his third batter in relief, Luetge buzzed a pitch near Raul Ibanez's head that sent the Yankees veteran to the ground before striking out the left fielder to end the top half of the inning.

"It wasn't intentional," Jeter said of the pitch that hit Rodriguez. "It was a close game (3-1) at the time. Now we've got to step it up.

"We can't feel sorry for ourselves. It's a challenge."

Hernandez, who said his command was off all night starting with a pitch that Curtis Granderson hit for a homer in the first inning, shook his head when he heard about the injury.

"I feel bad," he said. "That's not me."

Freddy Garcia, the Yankees starter, is one of Hernandez's best friends in the game. He said he was sure Hernandez wasn't throwing at Rodriguez.

"It's too bad about what happened," Garcia said. "It's a big loss for us. The pitch just got away from him. It happens."

First baseman Mark Teixeira tried to look at the bright side.

"It's unfortunate; it's a huge loss," he said. "But we just picked up Ichiro (in a trade Monday). That means there's going to be more chances for him to play and help us."

Girardi said that Nix and Chavez would split time at third base for the time being.

Because Wednesday is a day game, it's not clear whether New York can call someone up to Seattle to fill the open roster spot before the 3:40 p.m. ET start.

John Hickey is a contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.