Isiah Kiner-Falefa rejects reason cited by manager Boone for his benching

Isiah Kiner-Falefa throwing in a game.

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CLEVELAND — Manager Aaron Boone texted Isiah Kiner-Falefa first informing him that he was not in the Yankees’ lineup for Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Sunday. Then, at Progressive Field, Kiner-Falefa and Boone had a lengthy conversation about why he wasn’t in the lineup.

The game resulted in a 4-2 Yankees victory over the Guardians forcing a decisive Game 5. Kiner-Falefa, despite his good scoring ability, was facing fans’ ire for frequent fielding errors during the regular season. Even in the playoffs, he made two mistakes prompting many to seek his ouster from the lineup. Finally, the Yankees benched him in the ALDS Game 4.

Reacting to his absence, Kiner-Falefa said,

“It was terrible. It’s the kind of game you always want to be in, but I’m just glad we won.”

Kiner-Falefa was put on the bench in favor of Oswaldo Cabrera, a versatile rookie who played left field in the first three games of the season. Later he told that manager Boone was thinking of pushing him a little bit.

Boone told the media that Cabrera would be the first choice at shortstop for Game 5. The manager said that Cabrera looked “good” when he was playing in his natural position.

“Handled everything well,” Boone said, “A couple of tricky plays. I thought the (Josh) Naylor play to his left, kind of the ball hopped up on him (and he) handled it well (and) turned a big double play.”

The 26-year-old had a rough game, but the move was also made because of an unsettling trend.

Kiner-Falefa botched three plays, which led to runs, and the Yankees lost Game 3 on Saturday by a walk-off score of 6-5.

But Kiner-Falefa’s defense has been all over the place this season. He’s been called an elite defender, and he’s made some great plays, but he’s also had trouble a bit too often with simple ones. Still, Boone has said that Kiner-Falefa is one of the top 5–7 defensive shortstops in the game based on the Yankees‘ rankings.

But different advanced statistics about Kiner-Falefa’s defensive skills seem to be available to the public. With -2 Outs Above Average, he is ranked 25th among shortstops, but with 10 Defensive Runs Saved, he is seventh.

Kiner-Falefa said he wasn’t pushing.

“I just thought they were tough plays that could have went either way that I expected to make. I didn’t really feel like I was pressing, especially after the first two games I had in the series. I thought I had played pretty well. It’s just more of just not making some plays that the team needed in a big spot. I wish I could have those plays back but we came out with a win today. ( ”

He has no plans to leave the team. Kiner-Falefa said, “I’ll be ready to play whenever the team needs me.” “Game of elimination. Any way possible to win. That was my job, and if needed, I was ready to go.”

Should the Yankees drop Kiner-Falefa for Game 5 and also for the ALCS if they head to Houston?

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