|Benched star Alex Rodriguez says he loves the Yankees organization and is ready to play. (US Presswire)|
DETROIT -- In the world according to A-Rod, he started getting ready to hit in the sixth inning Tuesday night.
Or maybe in the fourth.
In the world according to A-Rod, he should be in the lineup, but still likes the manager who refuses to put him there.
In the world according to A-Rod, there's no reason to think he wants out of here.
"I love the Yankees," said Alex Rodriguez, who has become one of the biggest stories in an ALCS where he has just seven at-bats and one meaningless single. "I love this organization."
He loves the organization. He's ready to play. He wants to play.
Believe what you choose to believe on Alex Rodriguez. Some things he says are easier to believe than others.
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He was ready to hit? Seriously, when the whole world saw him sitting on the bench with his sweatshirt on, spitting sunflower seeds, in the ninth inning of Game 3?
"I was getting ready from the sixth inning on," he insisted. "I was ready to hit. I was waiting for my number to be called."
Waiting with his sweatshirt on, looking not at all ready to hit, as people in the Tigers clubhouse (and everywhere else in the baseball world) couldn't help but note.
But he was ready. We know that because he said so.
"Do I look ready now?" Rodriguez asked. "I know my preparation started in the fourth inning. And it will start earlier [Wednesday].
"I was ready. And [manager Joe Girardi] and I talked."
Who knows what was said when they did (if they did)? You can be sure the rest of us will be talking about October 2012 and Alex Rodriguez for years to come.
Eight days ago, he was still batting third for a team that won the most games in the American League this year. Now, he's of so little value that it barely makes news when he's on the bench for an elimination game, as he was to be for Game 4 on Wednesday.
Game 4, as it turned out, was postponed because MLB worried that coming rain threatened the chance to play nine uninterrupted innings. The ALCS is now scheduled to resume on Thursday at 4:07 p.m. ET when, you would expect, A-Rod will still be on the Yankees bench.
He's of so little value that Girardi was asked Wednesday afternoon if there was any scenario at all he could use him.
"Yeah, I do," Girardi said, without any attempt to identify that situation.
You wonder if there's any scenario where the Yankees could go to spring training with A-Rod next year, no matter how much he professes his love for the organization. Of course, if he really doesn't want to go, they can't trade him, because he holds total veto power over any deal.
He doesn't have the power to write his name into the lineup, at least we don't think he does. If you believe him, he was hoping to play Wednesday (or now on Thursday).
"Bottom line, any time I'm in any lineup, I think that lineup is better," he said. "Any time I'm in the box, the game can change."
That shouldn't be earth-shattering news. Rodriguez has 647 career home runs. When the postseason began, not even two weeks ago, it was unthinkable that he'd be available to pinch hit, because it was unthinkable that he wouldn't be in the lineup for a game he was healthy enough to play.
But in the last seven days, the Yankees have played six games. In three of the six, A-Rod has been pinch-hit for with the Yankees trailing in close games. In two others, he didn't play at all.
Wednesday, with the Yankees facing elimination, he was out of the lineup again.
Maybe you can remember a similar situation with a star in any professional sport. I can't.
It's a stunning fall, so stunning that the Yankees faced questions Wednesday about whether there were other reasons A-Rod wasn't playing. After all, for two straight days he has been the subject of stories in the New York Post, about his attempts to pick up two women in the stands after he was pinch-hit for in Game 1.
"Purely baseball-related," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, referring to the decision not to play A-Rod. "This is all about winning, regardless of the report that is out there that is a non-baseball-related story. It's not going to affect our decision-making about who is best to put us in the position to win on a daily basis."
Rodriguez refused to comment on the Post reports. You can't blame him, because you can't imagine anything he could say on that matter that could help him -- not that that has stopped him before.
For what it's worth, Rodriguez also said he has no problem with Girardi.
"He's been very good to me," Rodriguez said. "We'll disagree [on the Game 4 lineup]. I like Joe. I respect Joe."
He likes Joe. He loves the Yankees. He's always ready to play.
In the world according to A-Rod, it all makes sense.