CC Sabathia likely to pitch Game 3

Updated: October 2, 2011, 2:12 AM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia will not pitch again before Monday's ALDS Game 3, and possibly as late as Tuesday's Game 4, according to New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

"I think he'll be OK Monday, but I want to make sure," Girardi said before the Yankees beat the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers 9-3 on Saturday night in the resumption of Game 1, which was suspended because of rain in the second inning Friday night. "I don't think it took a ton out of him but before I say definitely, I want to talk to him."

And if Sabathia is ready to go on Monday, it is likely that A.J. Burnett will pitch on Tuesday at Comerica Field.

"That's something we gotta talk about, but A.J.'s an excellent candidate for that game," Girardi said. "He's pitched well against this team this year."

Sabathia worked two innings and threw 27 pitches Friday night before a heavy rainstorm forced the suspension of the game, which was tied at 1.

Sabathia said after the game that he thought he could pitch again on Saturday and would present his case to the manager.

"If it means I get the ball as many times as possible, I'm all for it," the ace left-hander said.

Girardi, however, ruled out the possibility of Sabathia pitching in either of the two games at Yankee Stadium before the series shifts to Detroit on Monday.

"You don't want to send a guy out there if he's not physically as good as he can be," Girardi said. "If you got a couple of games you can choose from and he can be 95 percent one day and 80 percent the other day, I'm going to take him at the 95 percent."

Sabathia was asked if he tried to talk Girardi into letting him pitch Sunday.

"He just said no," said Sabathia, who added that it was too early to worry about being unavailable for a potential Game 5.

"That's looking too far ahead. I'll concentrate on working on Monday and we'll see what happens," he said.

In his brief appearance, Sabathia appeared sharper than he has recently, striking out four of the first seven batters he faced. He did, however, allow a first-inning home run to Delmon Young. His Detroit counterpart, Justin Verlander, was not as sharp in his one inning of work, walking two batters and needing 25 pitches to get out of the first, in which the Yankees scored a run without a base hit as Derek Jeter -- who reached on a wild pitch after striking out -- scored on a groundout by Alex Rodriguez.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said on Friday that Verlander would absolutely not go again until Monday.

Now, the remaining pitching matchups are as follows: Yankees rookie Ivan Nova versus Doug Fister in the resumption of Game 1, followed by Freddy Garcia versus the Tigers' Max Scherzer in Game 2. Assuming Sabathia is OK to go, he will have a rematch with Verlander on Monday, followed by Burnett against Detroit's Rick Porcello in Tuesday's Game 4 (if necessary) and Nova, on regular rest, versus Fister in a potential Game 5 on Thursday back in New York.

The loss of Sabathia and Verlander for the first game changes the complexion of a series that potentially could have featured the marquee matchup of both team's aces twice within five games.

"It can potentially change a lot, but I don't think we're ever going to know," Girardi said. "That's for people to sit around and talk about, but none of us really know if it would have changed the outcome."

Asked which team's chances were compromised more by the adjustment, Girardi said, "That's bulletin-board material, so I'm not going to answer it."

Asked the same question Friday night, Sabathia said, "I'm confident in our guys. Nova has had a great year. Freddy has pitched well. I don't want to sit here and say if I don't pitch, we can't win, because we've been doing it all year."

Girardi also raised the possibility of having Phil Hughes pitch in Game 4.

Hughes hasn't started a game since Sept. 12 due to back spasms. He made two relief appearances late in the regular season and declared his back fully healthy on Saturday.

"I felt good the last couple days when I pitched in Tampa. I felt strong and ready to go and the back's not an issue," Hughes said.

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com contributor Ian Begley was used in this report.

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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