Rodriguez falls to sixth in lineup shuffle

October 3rd, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Rodriguez falls to sixth in lineup shuffle

NEW YORK -- Joe Torre would never say it, but what else could dropping Alex Rodriguez to the No. 6 spot for Game 1 of the Division Series be but a way to take the pressure off the superstar?
``I can shake them up and pull them out of a hat, you know, as I told the players this morning when I read it to them," said the Yankees manager, ``but you have to put them in order, and you know, we basically separated the lefties and we let it fly."
Gary Sheffield was elevated to cleanup, behind Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, and Bobby Abreu. Jason Giambi will bat fifth, and after Rodriguez come Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, and Robinson Cano. Odd man out is Melky Cabrera.
``I just threw lineups together the last week or so," Torre said. ``We just started thinking about it. [The Tigers] have a couple of lefthanders coming out of the bullpen, couple of lefthanders out of the rotation. We have a lot of lefthanders, so it's just a matter of which way you're going to line them up. We're not married to anything. It's just what we feel we want to start with and we'll see where we go from there."
It will be the first time since 1996 that Rodriguez has hit lower than fifth (he hit eighth for the Mariners in May 1996).
Rodriguez, who hit .290 with 35 homers and 121 RBIs this season, said, ``I don't mind where I hit. It's never been a big issue for me. Joe spoke to me so it's no big deal."
As Rodriguez acknowledged, he is in a superstar lineup, one in which the No. 9 batter, Cano, hit .342 -- third in the league.
``Robby, for 90 percent of the teams, could be hitting third," said Rodriguez. ``It doesn't matter how you draw it up."
The lineup shuffle does show a lot of confidence in Sheffield, who went 7 for 28 (.250) with 2 homers and 6 RBIs in nine starts at first base since being reinstated from the disabled list Sept. 19.
``I'm willing to do whatever it takes to win," Sheffield said. ``I've changed my position for other players to accommodate other people in the past. Hitting fourth is like hitting fifth, sixth, whatever. You can't go in saying, `I've got to be the guy to carry it.'
``Somebody's got to get on base and somebody's got to drive you in. I'm not surprised by anything."
``It's a lineup and one that we're very comfortable with," said Damon. ``It has nothing to do where people hit, it's what you do with your at-bat."
Damon said everyone is rooting for A-Rod to have a big postseason.
``What he deals with day in and day out is incredible," Damon said. ``He takes a lot on his shoulders.
``Hopefully he can just relax and let his incredible talents just shine."