This afternoon, Brian Cashman left a little bit of wiggle room on the Yankees using A.J. Burnett as their fourth starter, but he didn’t leave much.
“In this next round, the schedule dictates that we’ll have four starters,” Cashman said.
Does that mean Burnett will be the fourth?
“Yeah, that’s what I believe would be the case,” he said. “We’ll talk about it tomorrow, but yeah.”
A few minutes later in a 25-minute conference call, Cashmen went just a bit further: “We’re going to have our meetings, but if we have to go with a four-man rotation, it will be A.J. Burnett.”
It never seemed especially likely that the Yankees would ask both Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes to pitch on short rest. Pettitte is a barely a month removed from a groin injury, and Hughes has never thrown this many innings this deep into a season. Burnett is erratic, but he’s also the most proven of the Yankees fourth-starter options.
“I think every game we play is a ‘hold your breath’ thing,” Cashman said. “Whether it’s Game 1 of the Division Series with a guy like CC – the first five innings against the Twins in Game 1 with our ace on the mound was a struggle – or Game 2 with Andy Pettitte. How is he going to be health-wise? That was a question mark, not knowing what you’re going to be dealing with. Phil Hughes, his first postseason official start.
“… I’ve seen A.J. Burnett succeed and obviously I’ve seen him struggle. I know what he’s capable of just like I knew what Phil Hughes was capable of. We saw that. It’s just another question yet to be answered.”
• Damaso Marte’s rehab has been stopped in Tampa. He’ll travel back to New York to have his sore left shoulder checked by Dr. Ahmad. “That could involve surgery,” Cashman said. “It most likely will. He’s attempted to come back but it just hasn’t worked out. That was the conservative route that’s been done, so now we’ll have to do the more aggressive route, which is the invasive side of it.”
• Cashman said it’s too early to know how this might affect Marte next year. “Within a week, we’ll have some information,” he said.
• The Yankees staff will meet tomorrow to discuss any possible roster changes, but those probably won’t be announced until Wednesday at the earliest. They want to know who they’re facing first. Cashman said roster changes are “certainly possible.”
• Will Pettitte pitch Game 2? “All of those things will be discussed when we get together as a staff.”
• Will Francisco Cervelli catch Burnett, and could that lead to a third catcher being on the roster? “We haven’t had any of the roster meetings so all of that stuff is premature right now.”
• The Yankees will have five days between games. “Sometimes it’s good to go five games (in the division series) and keep firing on all cylinders like that series is going to be,” Cashman said. “There will be certain guys it will benefit, and there will be certain guys I’m sure it will be too long. I’d rather be in this situation than not.”
• As you might expect, Cashman said he doesn’t care who wins tomorrow’s game between the Rays and Rangers, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be hoping for a certain outcome. “I’ll root for an extra-inning game,” he said. “Let it go 21 innings if it has to.”
Associated Press photos of Burnett and Marte. I thought it was important to find a Marte picture. I wasn’t sure anyone would remember what he looks like.