NEW YORK (WFAN) — Joe Girardi said Friday that managing the Yankees during Alex Rodriguez’s final week has been “one of the most difficult things that I went through.”

Girardi was criticized after he initially suggested A-Rod would see plenty of playing time in his final four games and then changed his mind, not starting A-Rod Tuesday or Wednesday at Boston.

“It’s just been a different situation that I don’t think you can prepare yourself for … and it’s been difficult,” Girardi told WFAN’s Mike Francesa.

Girardi reiterated that his top priority is making up ground in the American League wild-card race. The Yankees trailed Boston by 3 1/2 games for the second wild-card spot heading into Friday night’s game against the Rays, Rodriguez’s last in pinstripes.

LISTEN: A-Rod Gives Ambiguous Answers About Resuming Playing Career

“We’re still fighting, and I’m just trying to put the best lineup out there every day to win,” Girardi said.

Francesa asked Girardi how A-Rod’s situation differed from Derek Jeter’s final season, in which he batted second despite struggling for the most part.

“I can understand that argument, but we didn’t really have anyone else to put there, in a sense,” Girardi said. “There weren’t people having good years. It was another year where we had struggled.

Girardi added that the difference between Rodriguez and Teixeira, who announced he is retiring after the season and is also struggling at the plate this year, is that Teixeira is a solid defensive presence and that the team has lost a number of other first basemen to injury.

Of A-Rod, Girardi said: “You look at his numbers. You look at what he’s done against right-handers, you look at what he’s done against left-handers — and it’s been a tough year. You look at his OPS — it’s been a tough year. You look at his productivity, and it has not been great. And we feel that there’s other options.”

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