BOSTON -- The Yankees averted another major loss in their lineup tonight when Alfonso Soriano told Joe Girardi his sprained right thumb felt well enough for him to play in tonight's crucial game against the Red Sox.
"It's not normal, but it's OK," Soriano said after testing the thumb with some swings in the indoor batting cage. Soriano will play tonight with a padded thumb guard on his right hand to cushion some of the vibrations off the bat.
"If it's not September and we not be in the race, I'd take a couple more days off," Soriano said. "I think we're in the race and it's not time to take a day off. I just want to do the best I can and help the team to win."
Since joining the Yankees on July 26 in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, Soriano has hit 15 home runs and driven in 47 runs, more than any other player in baseball. His presence in the lineup is widely credited with improving the Yankees' offense, not only because of his production, but because of the protection he provides Robinson Cano, who generally bats ahead of him, in the lineup.
"I didn't think anyone could have imagined it," Girardi said. "If you put his numbers out there, he's going to drive in 160 runs and hit 60 home runs. Those are pretty incredible numbers if you put him at that pace. It just hasn't been his offense; it's been his defense, it's been him running the bases. There's been so many things that he's done for us, I don't think any of us imagined it would probably be this much."
-- As expected, Alex Rodriguez is the DH again tonight, and Girardi still isn't sure if he'll be ready to play the field when the Yankees open a three-game series in Toronto on Tuesday after Monday's day off.
"It's kind of day by day," Girardi said. "I figured I wouldn't even ask him today because we have the day off tomorrow and I still haven't seen him run real good. We'll see where we are Tuesday."
-- Boone Logan is not with the team, having flown down to Pensacola today, where his ailing left elbow will be examined tomorrow by Dr. James Andrews. Logan has not pitched since Sept. 6 at Yankee Stadium, when he allowed a game-tying grand slam to Mike Napoli in a game the Red Sox went on to win, 12-8.
-- Mark Reynolds is getting another start at third base tonight, replacing Eduardo Nunez, who has not played there since allowing a playable ball to get past him in Friday night's game, which eventually led to Jarrod Saltalamacchia's grand slam home run in the Bosox's 8-4 win. Girardi said Nunie's benching had less to do with that play -- it was scored a base hit but Girardi said Nunez could have made the play -- than the play of Brendan Ryan at shortstop.
"Ryan is playing extremely well," Girardi said. "We're just kind of staying with the hot hand. He's playing really good."
-- Girardi said Phil Hughes will start Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays in Toronto, but would not rule out the possibility of another tag-team start, with Hughes going the first three before giving way to David Huff, as they did Thursday night in Baltimore.
"I'll do whatever we need," Girardi said. "But if I need Huff a lot tonight or on Tuesday, I'll change my approach."
-- Back on August 10, Girardi had said he thought the Yankees would have to win another 35 games, for a total of 93 wins, to secure a playoff spot. But now, with the teams in front of the Yankees playing inconsistently -- both Texas and Tampa Bay lost their games before the 8:05 p.m. start of tonight's series finale with the Red Sox -- Girardi said he thought the Yankees might not need quite so many wins.
"It might come down from that a little bit, but I don't think too much," Girardi said. "I really don't. 89 or 90 might do it."
That would mean that the Yankees would have go either 11-2 or 10-3 the rest of the way.