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With the Yankees owing Rodriguez $114 million over the next five seasons, managing his decline could become a central issue for the team.
"I ain't worried about years ahead. Just let me worry about today," Girardi said. "The best relationships, the strongest relationships, are always relationships that go through some struggles. Relationships just aren't perfect. I mean, you put a husband and wife together where the relationship was just perfect without any struggles, and you're probably not living on this planet. So relationships go through that.
"So, I mean if things have to be, you know, built back up, we can do that. I have had to do that before. So I don't worry about that."
Fifth on the career list with 647 home runs -- 115 behind Barry Bonds' record -- Rodriguez has been slowed by five trips to the disabled list in five seasons: for a strained quadriceps (2008), hip surgery (2009), a strained calf (2010), knee surgery (2011) and a broken hand, sustained July 24 when hit by a pitch from Seattle's Felix Hernandez.
Before the start of spring training in 2009, he admitting using performance-enhancing drugs while he was with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03.
As for the rest of the Yankees' lineup, Derek Jeter was back at shortstop after being moved to DH for a game because of a sore left foot. Jeter led off, followed by left fielder Ichiro Suzuki, second baseman Robinson Cano, first baseman Mark Teixeira, Ibanez, right fielder Nick Swisher, center fielder Curtis Granderson, catcher Russell Martin and Chavez.
Yankees ace CC Sabathia was on the mound. He led the Yankees to a 7-2 win in the opener.
Girardi decided against benching Granderson, who is 1 for 16 (.063) with nine strikeouts in the series. He did not want to start Brett Gardner, who has been limited to three at-bats since mid-April because of an elbow injury that required surgery.
"If Grandy stays in his zone, he will be fine," Girardi said. "That's the big thing he has to concentrate on."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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