ESPN - Less than 24 hours after pooh-poohing the idea of a lineup shakeup, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi has done precisely that, dropping Alex Rodriguez, his No. 3 hitter for nearly all of last season, to No. 6 for Sunday's game against the Seattle Mariners and elevating the hot-hitting Carlos Beltran into the 3-hole.
Following his season long suspension in 2014, expectations were low for A-Rod entering 2015. Fans legitimately wanted the Yankees to just eat the remaining three years on his contract to send him away for good. A shell of his former self, A-Rod's recent play suggested he would be too much of a distraction to contribute in a significant way.
However, as we all know, A-Roid proved the haters wrong and went on to have his best all around season since 2010. As the full-time DH he played in 150 games for the first time since 2007, hitting 33 homers with 86 RBI and a .356 on base percentage along the way. The Yankees went on to make the playoffs and A-Rod's big season became one of the most interesting stories of the year.
Unfortunately for A-Rod and the Yankees things haven't started as well this season. First he announced he would retire in two years once his contract expired. Then he took it back. Now it looks like father time is once again catching up with the 40-year-old. Thus far A-Rod is hitting just .118/.231/.294 while striking out in exactly one-third of his plate appearances. It's early, and he is certainly not the only star off to a slow start, but it is becoming fair to wonder if last season's resurgence is going to end up being an outlier in this last phase of Alex's career.
He has earned back a lot of goodwill recently, both for his 2015 play and for his impressive broadcasting last fall, but if he doesn't turn it around soon things will get ugly. Alex knows this better than anyone.