The Yankees are on the field, loosening for one or two more games at Yankee Stadium. They’re all here, and all say they are emboldened by taking the field tomorrow night behind Andy Pettitte — even on short rest.
A great deal of Joe Girardi’s press conference today dealt with Pettitte. The 37-year-old last started on short rest in 2006, when he made three starts on three days of rest. Before that? 2001, or when he was in his 20s.
In fact, Pettitte last started on normal rest on Sept. 5. He has made every start the last two months on five days rest or more. Still, Girardi has faith in baseball’s winningest postseason pitcher. He tried to identify why Pettitte can pitch well on three days rest, and you can hear his explanation in the audio file:
Here are a few other notes:
• Girardi expressed a willingness to pitch Mariano Rivera multiple innings in Game 6. “Hopefully we don’t need it, but whatever I have to do, whatever it takes to win the game,” Rivera said. “It’s a big game for us tomorrow and I have to be ready for it.” Rivera also said he thought he was capable of pitching multiple innings in both Game 6 and 7 if need be.
• Girardi also added no insight into who will play right field tomorrow. He said the coaches hadn’t looked at tomorrow’s lineup yet. Of course, Jerry Hairston Jr. started there last time the club faced Pedro Martinez, Game 2, but Hairston (10 for 27 lifetime vs. Pedro) told me he has received no indication either way. Nick Swisher (0 for 2) and Eric Hinske (8 for 30, HR, 7 RBI) are the other options. “I’m always prepared to play,” Hairston said.
• Brett Gardner said he jarred his lower back when he slammed into the wall during Game 5. He momentarily lost his breath but said he feels perfectly fine now. When Swisher met him in center after the fall last night, he changed the mood. “I thought I was going to die for about three or four seconds,” Gardner said. “Then I felt like I was fine. By the time Swisher got over there he was joking with me, saying I just wanted to get on TV. That lifted my spirits a little bit.”
• CC Sabathia said he felt strong already and would be ready for a Game 7. He again repeated that extra rest down the stretch has left him in solid position to pitch every fourth day. “I’ll be ready,” he said.
• Pettitte will talk in about 15 minutes (the schedule changed). I’ll have audio from him in a bit.
UPDATE, 5:10 p.m.: Pettitte talked for about 10 minutes. He obviously focused on pitching on short rest and trying to close out another series. “Man, I don’t remember the last time I pitched on short rest,” Pettitte said.
Here’s the full audio:
Also, I made a mistake earlier. Before ’06, Pettitte last pitched on short rest in Game 2 of the 2003 World Series. He was terrific, pitching 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball to beat the Marlins 6-1. Pettitte didn’t allow an earned run and surrendered just six hits. Here’s the game.