Hairston in for Swisher; Molina catching A.J.

Hairston takes Swisher's place

NEW YORK -- The cries have been increasing in volume for weeks now, and finally, before Game 2 of the World Series, manager Joe Girardi responded.

Girardi benched the slumping Nick Swisher in favor of Jerry Hairston Jr. on Thursday, also pairing catcher Jose Molina with pitcher A.J. Burnett for the 10th straight game. More than Swisher's slump, Girardi said, the move was about Hairston's success against Phillies starter Pedro Martinez.

"He's had a lot of success off of Pedro," Girardi said of Hairston. "We also like the way they kind of match up against each other, and that kind of shows up in the numbers. So we thought we'd give Jerry tonight."

In 27 career at-bats against Martinez, Hairston is 10-for-27 with two doubles and one triple. Swisher is hitless off him in two at-bats, though that sample size is negligible compared to Swisher's ever-growing slump in October.

In 10 postseason games, all of them starts, Swisher is 4-for-35 with 12 strikeouts. He has just one hit -- a soft ground-ball single in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series -- over his past 17 at-bats. Worse, he has walked just three times, his on-base percentage plunging to .205.

"Obviously, you are frustrated, upset, but hey, this is part of the thing," Swisher said. "This is a team game. We've gotten here by playing everyone we have. You know Jerry Hairston is ready today, and he's going to go out and do a great job."

GAME 2 LINEUP
No. Name Pos.
1 D. Jeter SS
2 J. Damon LF
3 M. Teixeira 1B
4 A. Rodriguez 3B
5 H. Matsui DH
6 R. Cano 2B
7 J. Hairston RF
8 M. Cabrera CF
9 J. Molina C

"They've pitched him tough," Girardi said. "A lot of his at-bats have been long at-bats, but inevitably, they've gotten him out. That's the one thing that Swish is going to always do, he's always going to put a tough at-bat. They've made some good pitches, and at times, he's had to chase with two strikes out of the zone. We looked at his at-bats last night -- he popped up a couple of times, but his swing was short. He just was a little off."

After Game 5 of the ALCS, Girardi defended his right fielder, harping on the small sample size of Swisher's statistics and pointing to the fact that Johnny Damon, his regular left fielder, caught fire in the ALCS after wallowing through the AL Division Series.

Since then, however, Swisher is 1-for-6 with another two strikeouts.

"The postseason is definitely tougher to hit, and obviously, Nick wants to be the guy who helps carry us to a World Series championship," Damon said. "I think Nick has been doing a great job defensively and getting his outfield assists. When you don't contribute a certain way, at least you like the fact that he's going out and playing defense as well as he has been. I'm sure we'll see Nick in the ballgame tonight, and he's going to be ready."

Swisher has indeed played a fine defensive right field this postseason, though compared to Hairston and popular late-inning sub Brett Gardner, he is a defensive liability -- something Girardi has acknowledged all year long in replacing Swisher with the light-hitting Gardner late in games. So unless the Yankees are confronted with an obvious pinch-hitting situation late in the game, it is unlikely that Swisher will see the field.

"At this time of the year, it's about team," Girardi said. "Hairston has had some success off of Pedro before, and hopefully, he has it tonight. Right now, we're just trying to win as a team, and hopefully what we're doing tonight will work out for us."

2009 World Series
Gm. 1 PHI 6, NYY 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 3, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 NYY 8, PHI 5 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NYY 7, PHI 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 8, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 7, PHI 3 Wrap Video

They are words that Jorge Posada has heard time and again this October. Four times now, Posada has manned the bench in the postseason, due to the rapport Burnett has developed with backup catcher Jose Molina.

Burnett, though, struggled with Molina in Game 5 of the ALCS, allowing four runs in the first inning before settling down. And the Yankees are no longer carrying third-string catcher Francisco Cervelli on the roster, making it a riskier move to start Molina and replace him midway through the game with Posada, as Girardi has done three times already this October.

Regardless, Girardi preached again before Game 2 that the benefit of starting Molina outweighs the cost of starting Posada, by far the superior offensive player.

"It's never easy when it involves taking Jorge out," Girardi said. "It never is. We feel it has worked pretty well, and we thought we'd stay with it."

Because Cervelli is not on the roster, there was almost no chance that the Yankees would start Posada over Hideki Matsui at designated hitter, an idea they tossed around earlier in the postseason but never quite embraced. Had they done so, the Yankees would risk losing their DH if they needed to move Posada behind the plate late in the game.

Posada has also struggled against Martinez in his career, batting .183 in 60 at-bats. Matsui has not fared any better, batting .143 over 28 at-bats.

The rest of the lineup remains the same heading into Game 2 of the World Series. Derek Jeter is leading off, playing shortstop, followed by Damon in left field, Mark Teixeira at first base, Alex Rodriguez at third base, Matsui at DH, Robinson Cano at second base, Hairston in right, Melky Cabrera in center and Molina behind the plate.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.