It seems that the rotation auditions begin tonight, with Phil Hughes taking his turn to prove that he should remain a starter beyond this turn.
“Those are decisions that we have to make,” Hughes said. “We want to get down to a five-man rotation… We have one more (doubleheader), but that’s later on, so we won’t need a sixth starter necessarily for a while.”
What does Hughes need to show the Yankees to make his case? Girardi didn’t get into specifics, but the story with Hughes is usually the same: Mix pitches, hit spots, show good life on the fastball and be able to put away hitters. It’s not an unusual formula.
“His last start, he struggled,” Girardi said. “They put some long at-bats on him — we talked about that first-inning at-bat that Matsui put on him. He was just missing his spots a little bit. We just need him to get back to where he was.
“He ran about three or four good starts off in a row. It’s not abnormal to run three or four good ones in a row and not have a good one. That happens to pitchers. That’s almost a month’s work. If you were to have one bad start a month, you’d probably end up with a pretty good record. I think he’s closer, and he continues to get closer as the year has went on.”
• Alex Rodriguez is better, but he still didn’t swing a bat today. He’s expected to hit tomorrow, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll play in the game. Sounds like the Yankees still expect Rodriguez to miss this entire series.
• Girardi plans to play Russell Martin tomorrow, and Martin could play tonight if necessary. He reported that his sort thumb feels better, but Girardi wanted to give him one more day to be safe.
• Speaking of catchers, Girardi didn’t exactly confirm an earlier report that Jesus Montero will be called up tomorrow, but he said Montero is someone they’ve talked about a lot. He said Montero could be used as a DH or a catcher, but Girardi would be hesitant to start Montero at catcher because he prefers someone who’s familiar with the staff. Sounds like the bulk of Montero’s playing time will come as a designated hitter.
• Without saying who, Girardi said the Yankees are going to make “a few” September call-ups tomorrow. He said they will get the new guys here immediately, they aren’t going to wait and just have the call-ups join the team in New York on Friday.
• Eduardo Nunez is at third and Eric Chavez at DH just because Girardi wants Chavez to have a half day off his feet. Chavez has played three games in a row. This will be his fourth.
• Girardi said he has to check with Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera to determine whether they’re available tonight. Everyone else should be good to go.
• The Yankees are still deciding whether to start Freddy Garcia or CC Sabathia on Sunday. It would be Sabathia’s normal day, but they could give him an extra day and let Garcia make that start. Regardless, Girardi said Sabathia and Garcia will start Sunday and Monday in some order.
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
David Ortiz DH
Jed Lowrie 3B
Carl Crawford LF
Josh Reddick RF
Jason Varitek C
Marco Scutaro SS
Associated Press photo