In the Yankee Stadium tunnel that connects the home dugout and clubhouse, Joe Girardi pointed at Raul Ibanez, riding a stationary bike, and issued a simple command:
“You’re hitting second.”
“Second?” Ibanez thought, his mind racing. “Who’s hitting second? Is it Ichiro? Why would I hit for Ichiro?” Unable to do the math by himself, the 40-year-old expanded his query by speaking out loud: “Who’s hitting second?”
On the bike next to him, young Eduardo Nunez turned to Ibanez and cautiously mouthed the answer:
If the 2012 Yankees had won the World Series, the remarkable story of that season’s ALDS Game 3 would hold the same legendary status as, say, 1996 ALCS Game 1, or 2001 ALDS Game 3 — other runways to a championship or at least a pennant. Even without that follow-up, though, Ibanez’s pinch-hitting adventure counts as one of the 2010s finest Big Apple ballgames. Because of the amicable slugger’s late-innings heroics against the Orioles. Because of the boldness required to put him up there in the first place.
Because, as you probably realize by now, “Alex” was Alex Rodriguez.
Said Joe Girardi, who has managed 1,782 major-league,…