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TTLE -- Alex Rodriguez pursed his lips and spoke for just 45 seconds in front of his locker on Tuesday at Safeco Field. His look of disappointment, and the heavy bandage on his left hand, said everything.
Rodriguez could miss the next six to eight weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal in his left hand, having been hit by an errant 88-mph Felix Hernandez changeup in the eighth inning of the Yankees' 4-2 loss to the Mariners. The club placed Rodriguez on the disabled list Wednesday and recalled Ramiro Pena from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"It is difficult. Tough break," Rodriguez said. "I never thought [it would be a] fracture, but it was. It's a tough blow. Tough blow."
The injury interrupts what Rodriguez had believed could be the hot streak he has been waiting for, as the power in his swing had finally started to appear with regularity, enjoying a 9-for-23 road trip.
Rodriguez crushed perhaps his loudest homer of the year in Monday's series opener, his 15th overall, but the Yankees will now have to manage the immediate portion of a push toward the postseason without their highest-paid asset.
"It's just one of those freak things," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "You wish it didn't happen; obviously when somebody gets injured, it's pretty bad. But ... other guys are going to have to step up."
Rodriguez immediately cried out and dropped to his back after being hit by the pitch, writhing for several moments in an ugly scene at home plate.
Head athletic trainer Steve Donohue attended to Rodriguez on the field, accompanied by manager Joe Girardi. At one point, Donohue attempted to remove Rodriguez's batting glove, causing Rodriguez to yelp in pain.
Rodriguez was the third batter hit in the game by Hernandez, who also drilled former teammate Ichiro Suzuki in the seventh inning and hit Jeter earlier in the eighth. The Yankees chalked the plunkings up to a wild night for Hernandez and nothing sinister.
"You can't cry over spilled milk; you really can't," Mark Teixeira said. "It's very unfortunate. You hate to see a guy go down with something freaky like that, but we have gotten through it so far. I expect nothing less out of the guys in this locker room. We expect to get through this and have Alex healthy."
Hernandez was apologetic when asked about the pitch that darted up and in to Rodriguez.
"It was a changeup to A-Rod," Hernandez said. "It's bad, I feel bad. It was a changeup, it was 3-2. What can I say?"
Dating back to Spring Training, one of Girardi's most prominent goals for this season was to keep Rodriguez healthy. The three-time American League MVP has been on the disabled list every season since 2008, having been limited to 99 games last year by injuries to his left shoulder, right knee and left thumb.
The Yankees had been able to keep Rodriguez in the lineup and feeling spry by increasing Rodriguez's time in the designated hitter role, slotting him there 26 times this year with 64 starts at third base.
With Rodriguez out of commission, Girardi said that Eric Chavez would get Wednesday's start at third base, but Chavez isn't sure how much he can commit to being an everyday player at this point in his career.
"We'll just have to talk about it and see what we come up with," said Chavez, who suffered the same injury in 2004. "Whatever he asks me to do, I'll just give it my best shot."
Chavez has also proceeded cautiously to remain healthy after an injury-marred career, and he has embraced a lesser role as a spare part now that his stardom days with the Athletics are in the rear-view mirror.
"I'm not sure exactly what we're going to do," Girardi said. "Chavy will be there tomorrow, that's what I can give you. We're going to see some left-handers, and we're going to have to figure out what we're going to do. We're going to have to be careful. We're going to see how much we play Chavy."
The Yankees also have Jayson Nix on the active roster to play third base.
"We might have to change it around a little bit," Girardi said. "We've had to overcome some things so far, and we're just going to have to keep doing what we're doing."