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Alex is Mr. Miami,” Loria told him.

“Take him. Tell me what you’re willing to do,” Levine said before the pair laughed.

Said Levine Wednesday: “It’s funny. You can’t even joke with somebody anymore.”

Cashman flatly denied that the team has had trade discussions concerning Rodriguez.

He said manager Joe Girardi has the final say on the lineup, but a move like benching Rodriguez is discussed higher in the organization as well.

“The relationship I have with the manager is strong, and we always _ that’s the way I want it to be,” Cashman said. “We always go through what the lineup should be and how it should look we think. He asks my opinion. He asks his coaches’ opinion, and that’s the way it’s been.”

Granderson joined A-Rod on the bench after another hitless night Tuesday dropped him to 3 for 29 in the postseason. Granderson hit 43 homers with 106 RBIs this season.

“These are also the guys that got us the best record in the American League and put up the highest run total in our league, or one of the highest run totals in our league, so they’re also the reason for a lot of good that’s taken place,” Cashman said.

“But in the short-term right now it’s been bad. Is that a true snapshot of what their contributions are and who they are as players? It’s not. But it’s certainly something we’re dealing with and living with right now, and we’re doing everything we possibly can to make the adjustment and get it going,” he said.

Nick Swisher, who was benched in Game 3, returned to the lineup in right field. Eric Chavez started at third base in place of Rodriguez. Brett Gardner started in Granderson’s normal spot. Shortstop Derek Jeter is out for the season because of a broken ankle.

“It’s not that I want to sit Alex Rodriguez,” Girardi said. “But the struggles have continued, like for some other players as well, and I’ve sat some other players as well.”

Rodriguez has looked particularly overmatched against right-handers, going 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts in the postseason. Detroit’s entire playoff rotation is right-handed, including Game 4 starter Max Scherzer.

In Game 3, Girardi let Raul Ibanez hit against left-hander Phil Coke in the ninth inning, and Ibanez struck out to end the game. The switch-hitting Swisher _ not Rodriguez _ was in the on-deck circle preparing to pinch-hit.

“I was ready to hit, and I was just waiting for my number to be called,” Rodriguez said.

A New York Post report, citing an unidentified witness, said A-Rod flirted with two attractive female fans near the New York dugout after he was pinch-hit for late in Game 1 against Detroit.

Story Continues →