The television in the Yankees clubhouse was tuned to ESPN pregame. The group of players sitting around the television in charge of the remote were all rookies, young guys recently called up. They kept watching as one of the talking heads began ripping the Yankees rotation beyond CC Sabathia.
That’s when Alex Rodriguez walked over, called for the remote and changed the channel.
The Yankees could go a long way toward easing their rotation concerns tonight when Andy Pettitte makes his final regular-season start. Pettitte is coming off a bad start in New York, and he’s coming back from a little bit of back stiffness.
“He was able to do his bullpen a couple of days later,” Joe Girardi said. “It stiffened up the day he pitched, but he was able to do his bullpen and he’s had no issues. I don’t really have a lot of concern about it, but a little bit.”
The Yankees have not committed to a full playoff rotation, but it’s safe to say that winning the World Series is going to require a fourth starter, and so tomorrow’s A.J. Burnett start might be just as important in terms of easing rotation concerns.
“I don’t want to look at it as a bigger start,” Burnett said. “But it is a very important start obviously for myself and for these guys to know that A.J. can take the mound in the postseason and we’ve got confidence that we’ve got a chance to win a ball game, as opposed to what have we got today? … Confidence is not lost, but I know there are questions. I’m not oblivious to that.”
• As of right now, the tarp is on the field and dark clouds are overhead. It’s raining, but not heavily. “I think we’ll play,” Girardi said. “I wouldn’t bet it would be at 7:05, but I think we’ll play today. I haven’t heard any (contingency plans) which makes me think we’ll play.”
• Girardi said he believes once the rain passes, it will not come back so he has no plans of sitting Pettitte. Whenever this game starts, Pettitte will be the scheduled Yankees starter.
• Get used to this lineup. Girardi said there’s a good chance they’ll stick with it in the postseason. “This gives us a chance to split up the left-handers at the bottom,” Girardi said. “Grandy the last two months has been outstanding. It gives us another switch-hitter behind Robbie Cano. We think that it makes our lineup harder to navigate through. And the way Grandy has swung the bat the past two months, we felt he was ready to go up there.”
• Whether Jorge Posada catches Burnett tomorrow depends on how late the Yankees play tonight. Like with Pettitte, though, Girardi said he has no plans of changing his lineup because of the weather. He’s not going to sit Posada tonight to make sure he can use Posada tomorrow.
• Sunday’s starter is still up in the air, but it sounds like either Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes. Girardi said it absolutely won’t be Sabathia. “Could be that we use a lot of guys,” Girardi said. “A guy starts for a couple of innings and then we go to the bullpen right away. There are a lot of things we could do.”
• The Yankees want to use Hughes in some capacity this weekend, but Girardi still won’t give his innings limit. “We just wouldn’t use him a ton,” Girardi said.
• Girardi specifically named Nova as a potential Sunday starter. As for the chances of carrying Nova in the bullpen in the postseason: “That’s something we’d have to talk about as an organization, people that have seen him a lot more than we have,” Girardi said. Nova is not listed as an available reliever tonight.
• Does carrying a second lefty in the bullpen depend on which team the Yankees face? “I guess you could say that, yes,” Girardi said.
• Girardi said the Yankees have not settled on a number of pitchers to carry in the postseason.
• The Yankees have not mapped out a weekend plan for Mariano Rivera leading into the postseason. They’ll use him as necessary. “It is not mapped out, we’re trying to win our division,” Girardi said.
• The Red Sox are out of contention, but Girardi said it’s expected that non-contending teams still go all-out against contending teams. The Red Sox basically owe that to the Rays and Twins. “I think Boston will be ready to play and I think they’ll give everything they’ve got,” Girardi said. “That’s the kind of organization that they have. That’s the kind of players that they have. I think in the game of baseball, when you’re playing playoff contention teams, that’s what you’re supposed to do. I think you have to. It’s just the right thing to do. If you’re playing teams that aren’t in contention and you want to see young players, that’s a different story.”
UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: Still no update on when the Yankees and Red Sox might start playing. There is only a message on the big screen in center field saying they hope to play after the system passes through.
The Red Sox also just announced that Clay Buchholz will not pitch tomorrow because of a stiff lower back. Tim Wakefield will start instead.
Here’s tonight’s Red Sox lineup.
Darnell McDonald CF
J.D. Drew RF
David Ortiz DH
Mike Lowell 1B
Jed Lowrie SS
Jason Veritek C
Bill Hall LF
Felipe Lopez 2B
Yamaico Navarro 3B
Associated Press photos of Burnett and Granderson