Absent A-Rod won't make Yanks panic

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 PM ET

The New York Yankees open the second half of the season in second spot in the AL East, one game back of the hated Boston Red Sox, and without their cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez, who underwent knee surgery Monday and will be lost for four to six weeks.

Great way to start the second half, no?

Due to his knee problem, though, the Yankees have forged 53 wins without A-Rod having a typical A-Rod type of season. The third baseman hasn’t homered since June 11 and on the season has 13 homers with 52 RBIs while hitting .295.

He will be replaced in the lineup by Eduardo Nunez, who recently filled in for shortstop Derek Jeter when he missed 14 games with a calf injury.

“Because we’re a veteran team, there’s really no panic in us,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said recently. “We’ve had guys that have been hanging around long enough that they’ve been through ups and downs.

“Whether you see injuries or you see a two- or three-game losing streak, we’re not going to panic. Hopefully, the young guys see that and see that there’s nothing to worry about when you hit a little bit of a skid.”

The Yankees can afford the absence of A-Rod and the slumping bat of DH Jorge Posada thanks to great contributions offensively from the likes of CF Curtis Granderson, who is second in the league in home runs with 25, and 2B Robinson Cano, a professional hitter who is batting .296 with 15 homers and 57 RBIs.

“I just have my comfort and my confidence now,” Granderson said of his strong season.

Add the bat of Teixeira and the middle of the Yankees lineup remains one of the more lethal in the game. And the entire lineup just murders mediocre pitching.

On the mound, CC Sabathia remains among the top three starters in the league but one of the big reasons for the Yankees going 53-35 is the strong and unexpected performances from right-handed starters Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.

“You look at what Freddy has done, and Bartolo has done,” manager Joe Girardi said of the opening half. “Our guys have kept at it, and we’ve had some bad series, some tough series, that they’ve had to overcome. And they’ve done that. I give them a lot of credit. They’re businesslike and they go to work every day.”

One of the keys to the Yankees’ season could be the return of Phil Hughes. Last season he won 18 games and this season made three starts before being shelved with arm fatigue and lost velocity.

He returned last Wednesday against the Indians, allowing two runs on five hits over five innings while hitting 93 on the gun.

If he returns to last season’s form, it would be a major boost, A-Rod or no A-Rod.

mike.rutsey@sunmedia.ca


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