(Eds: With AP Photos.) By JIM LITKE AP Sports Columnist Alex Rodriguez is as good as gone.
He was the most feared hitter of his generation once. Now he's an afterthought.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said as much in the aftermath of Tuesday night's AL championship series Game 3 loss to the Tigers. What may turn out to have been New York's last chance to change the course of the series came in the ninth inning with two on and two out and left-handed reliever Phil Coke on the mound. Instead of bringing the right-handed Rodriguez in to pinch-hit, or even as a decoy to force his Detroit counterpart, Jim Leyland, to turn to right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit, Girardi elected to roll the dice once more with the Raul Ibanez.
Unlike when Girardi played a similar hunch last week against Baltimore, letting Ibanez pinch-hit for Rodriguez, the left-handed veteran struck out to end the game.
''Joe, did you consider hitting Alex or a right(-handed) hitter?'' a reporter asked. ''What went thr...