Twin bill presents challenges for skipper
Day-night set forces Girardi to make lineup decisions
TORONTO -- The preparation work for a long Labor Day of baseball started early in the Yankees clubhouse, as manager Joe Girardi began to toy with possible lineups for the day-night twinbill against the Rays.
The Yankees will come home off a seven-day road trip on Monday with little time for rest and relaxation, meeting Tampa Bay for a rescheduled makeup date of a June 5 rainout at Yankee Stadium.
"I was thinking about who was going to play one [game] and who you were going to ask to play two," Girardi said on Sunday, as his club prepared to play the Blue Jays. "Doubleheaders are hard, because you physically don't want to wear someone out and get someone hurt.
"It's one thing about a guy being tired. It's another thing about them being hurt because of fatigue. That's my biggest worry, and I've tried to rest guys this whole week to make sure that guys are strong finishing out this long stretch."
Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada were the latest members of the regular lineup to have their numbers called on Sunday for a respite, completing a series at Rogers Centre that has seen Girardi field lineups without Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher.
Girardi said that there is also a chance that he would rest Rodriguez for one of the two games on Monday, not wanting to wear the third baseman out after he played five games in a row on this trip, including three on the artificial turf in Toronto.
The manager said that some players have expressed interest in playing both ends of the doubleheader; as of Sunday morning, one of them apparently included a certain shortstop who is within six hits of equaling Lou Gehrig's club record of 2,721 hits.
"You could probably guess who one of the guys is," Girardi said, with a wink.
Starting pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett were left to their own devices to decide who would pitch the 1:05 p.m. ET contest and the rescheduled 7:05 p.m. nightcap.
Sabathia decided that he would prefer pitching the day game, so he will be teamed with Posada, while Burnett will work with Jose Molina.
"We let them talk it out between them," Girardi said.
Girardi said that the batteries were not made in light of Burnett's recent difficulties and communication issues with Posada, but rather because Posada and Sabathia have not worked together recently.
Closer Mariano Rivera is expected to be available for at least one of the games on Monday, having tossed a light bullpen session on Saturday in Toronto to test his sore left groin. Girardi said that he might need Phil Hughes once more after the right-hander hurled 1 1/3 innings to lock down Saturday's 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays.
The Yankees should have at least one reinforcement on the way in rehabbing outfielder Brett Gardner, who was 1-for-3 with two runs scored and three walks on Saturday while playing nine innings in center field for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Girardi said he spoke Sunday with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley, who told him that Gardner had looked good. Girardi said that there is a "good chance" Gardner will be in New York by the first pitch of Monday's doubleheader, having asked Miley to use Gardner as a designated hitter on Sunday to keep his legs fresh for the long day.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.