Here’s the interesting thing about pregame interviews on the day of a potential series-clinching game: Every question has the potential to be absolutely meaningless by the end of the day.
You can ask a little bit about Phil Hughes, but in the here and now, it’s only his performance tonight that matters. You can ask about plans for tomorrow, but those might be irrelevant. Ask about a specific reliever or a hitter, and their status could change with one at-bat or one pitch.
“Both games could have gone either way,” Joe Girardi said. “You get them to just try to focus on today. Don’t worry about what’s happened the past couple of days. Worry about today and try to win today… I’m not so sure a message needs to be relayed. Just focus on playing a good game.”
The clubhouse doesn’t open to reporters before playoff games, so it’s hard to have a sense of how loose the Yankees are this afternoon. There enough experience on the roster that I can’t imagine them feeling tense for a game like this, and Hughes has such a laid-back demeanor that he seems like a natural fit in the postseason.
Not much to do now but sit and wait.
Here’s Girardi’s pregame press conference.
• Girardi said the plan is to stick stick with the Games 1 and 2 lineups against lefties and righties. Derek Jeter will remain in the lead-off spot, Lance Berkman and Marcus Thames will alternate at DH. “That’s kind of what we’re looking at right now,” Girardi said.
• Sticking with these lineups means sticking with Brett Gardner in left. “We’re comfortable with him in there against lefties,” Girardi said. “Defense plays an important role too. There are a lot of things Gardy can do.”
• CC Sabathia has thrown a light side session, and he’ll do some flat ground work today. “Then he goes (tomorrow) if we need him,” Girardi said.
• A lot of the pregame beat writers session with Girardi focused on Joba Chamberlain, who has yet to pitch, but got loose in Game 2. There really haven’t been many spots for him. He and Dave Robertson are kind of interchangeable in Girardi’s mind. “I told all those guys, be ready at any time,” Girardi said.
• Girardi on the evolution of Chamberlain since 2007: “I think it would be hard to live up to the expectations he created in ’07. He was so dominant. It’s pretty hard for anybody to cover that for a long, long period of time. You don’t see pitches do that. He created an expectation by the way he pitched, and it’s hard to live up to on a daily basis. He’s still effective for us.”
• Girardi said, as always, he’ll check with Mariano Rivera, Dave Eiland and the training staff to determine whether Rivera is available for more than one out. “That thought is always in the back of your head. If I need Mo for four outs tonight, do I have him?” Girardi said.
• Girardi said Phil Hughes didn’t use his changeup earlier this season simply because he was having so much success without it, it didn’t seem like a good time to start leaning on a fourth-best pitch. “We talked about it,” Girardi said. “Dave talked to him about it. Jorge was working it in. Hughesy wanted to work it in. They just started going to it.”
• Is Hughes the No. 3 starter next round? “No idea. I’m worried about today.”
• I wasn’t there for it, but apparently yesterday Kerry Wood said Rivera most reminds him of Greg Maddux. “I think that’s a good comparison,” Girardi said. “Greg Maddux always knew what he wanted to do, was always prepared and was always calm and a great student of the game. I think you can say the same about Mo. Great fielder. Didn’t beat himself.”
Associated Press photos. First of Cano, Cashman and Long during yesterday’s workout. Next of Girardi with his son Dante.