By Tom Verducci
June 19, 2009

1) Does Yankees manager Joe Girardi need to find more down time for Alex Rodriguez? Or does the New York manager keep running Rodriguez out there hoping the third baseman, who turns 34 next month and is coming off hip surgery, simply needs more at-bats to find his groove? Those questions have become more acute as A-Rod continues to slump, and Girardi will not have use of the DH option for the next nine games as New York plays in NL parks.

(Editor's note: The Yankees decided to bench A-Rod for two days, beginning with Friday night's game at Florida.)

Girardi initially indicated he would ease Rodriguez into playing shape when he returned from surgery. But Rodriguez hasn't missed a game yet, and his fielding and hitting have worsened. He's down to .212 for the season, is stuck in a 13-for-74 slide (.176), has hit one home run on the road all year and has slugged only .462. The last time he slugged that low for a season was when he was 19 and played in 48 games. Get him out of the Yankee Stadium bandbox, and he has the same road slugging percentage as David Eckstein of the Padres (.373).

Age and health have come into play. Since Rodriguez turned 33 last July 27, he is a .246 hitter over 93 games.

2) There are going to be some angry first basemen when the All-Star teams are announced. In the American League, Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau, Russell Branyan, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Pena (listed in order of OPS) all have good arguments to be selected. The same thinking applies in the NL to Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, Lance Berkman, Todd Helton and Nick Johnson. The rosters will likely include no more than four first basemen in each league.

3)David Price may have the stuff of an ace, but the Rays left-hander is a long way from being an ace. Price saw the seventh inning as a starting pitcher for the first time in his major-league career this week (and lost) -- that for a 6-foot-6 mountain of a man who turns 24 in two months. Price still hasn't thrown 110 pitches in a big-league game. Well, at least the Rays are making darn sure he doesn't hurt his arm.

Check out how Price compares to what CC Sabathia had done in the big leagues by the same age (two months shy of turning 24):

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