THE MODERATOR: First question for Joe Girardi.
JOE GIRARDI: Let me just start out by saying, and I'm sure this question is going to be asked, we do have the roster put together, but I have not had a chance to talk to everyone. So as soon as I get a chance, I will share it with all of you. Most of us got to our homes about 5:00 in the morning. You can understand why a few players aren't here yet.
THE MODERATOR: First question for Joe.
Q: Can you just talk about last night and what went on in Baltimore, with you guys and in Atlanta, because it was a really special night for baseball.
JOE GIRARDI: I think it was a great night for baseball. It was a playoff night for baseball last night, to kick off the real playoffs that start on Friday. It's amazing how things turned in five or six minutes in both ballparks, and yet extra-inning games, you think about the game in Atlanta, you think about the game in Tampa, just an amazing night. An exciting night.
Q: Joe, what progression have you seen in Justin Verlander over the course of his career?
JOE GIRARDI: Justin Verlander has been a dominant pitcher throughout his career. You think about when he first came up and - this is man that has four pitches, and he's always had the great fastball, but I think what you see is the consistency in his other pitches. He has four pitches that he can get you out with at any time. And that's probably the biggest difference from when he first came up.
Q: Joe, you had explained well in advance you weren't going to be using your bullpen guys last night, but for the benefit of all the people grousing in New England, can you kind of go through the method of your madness with all the quick hooks last night, Betances and Burnett and all of them?
JOE GIRARDI: What I was trying to do was I was trying to win the game. I had three left handers. They had a number of left-handers together, and it worked very well until the eighth inning. That's when it seemed to unravel, when we hit a few guys and we walked a few guys.
As I said, with only the one day off, the Robertsons, the Sorianos and the Riveras, I was not going to pitch, because you're talking about you may ask them to go multiple innings at any point in these first two days, you would be pitching them three out of four days if they get in both games. And that's not something I can jeopardize. My first responsibility is to our team. We did everything we could to win that game. It wasn't like I stuck a rookie in there and just left him in there for seven innings. He got through the two innings and then I went to work mixing and matching the rest of the game.
So we did everything we could to win that game.
Q: Last year in the ALCS against Texas you guys either were willing to pitch to Hamilton a lot or you were forced to pitch to Hamilton a lot. I'm wondering if the way he performed in that series and how a star player can change a series, will that lead you to be any different with the way you treat Cabrera in this series?
JOE GIRARDI: We understand the type of hitter Miguel Cabrera is and how you have to be careful with him. I think the biggest difference between this lineup with Detroit this year and maybe last year was the addition of Victor Martinez and how Avila has arrived. But in saying that, we will be careful with Miguel Cabrera.
Q: Joe, when you look at the Tigers, what do you see, what are your concerns?
JOE GIRARDI: It's a complete team. They're very sound fundamentally. Their starting rotation is good, their bullpen is good, they have left-handers in their bullpen, their lineup is very good, and it's deep. You look at the rebound year that Jhonny Peralta has had and he's a guy that's hitting down in the order.
So this is a very good club. You don't win 96 games or 95 games by accident. This is a very good club.
Q: Joe, have you determined whether or not you're going to pitch CC in Game 4? And if so, why? And if not, why also? Just an explanation.
JOE GIRARDI: We decided to go with the three-man rotation in the first round. He would be the only one that would pitch on short rest. That's why we decided to do it.
Q: Joe, if Alex is not healthy enough to be what you've come to expect from him over the years, how much does that diminish your team and ultimately your chances to win in the postseason?
JOE GIRARDI: My feeling is he'll be healthy. But if he's not, that's a big player out of our lineup, or a big player that's not at the top of his game. But my feeling, if last night was a postseason game, I'm playing him. That's the bottom line.
As I said, the time of year, we had to be somewhat cautious with some of our players, because I would hate to lose a player on the last day of the season.
Q: Joe, how is Montero's hand?
JOE GIRARDI: He's okay. I saw him today. He's fine. He got hit on the outside of the last two fingers. He'll have a bruise, but I saw it. There wasn't really any swelling. He's okay.
Q: Joe, they have four right-hand starters that they're likely to use. Does that mean you intend to use Posada as the DH in each game?
JOE GIRARDI: Our intent is to use Jorgie as our DH. We will go with that, and you just play it out.
Q: Joe, do you have doubt that Alex is not healthy enough to play every day at third base in the playoffs?
JOE GIRARDI: I have no doubt that he's healthy enough to play every day. Yes.
Q: If you can just -- I hate to talk about -- but CC obviously he's been such your ace all year and just the confidence level behind him. If you have seen him make adjustments maybe for the reason he wasn't getting as late in games lately.
JOE GIRARDI: I thought his last couple of games he pitched pretty well. I have a ton of confidence in CC. This is a guy that's been doing it for a long time. He's been doing it in the postseason for us as well. He's a guy that gives you a ton of innings, but he gives you quality innings. I have a ton of belief. You know he's not going to panic. If he gets in a tough situation, he's going to continue to make his pitches.
Q: Joe, what did you learn from A.J.'s brief appearance last night? I know he had a lot of time to warm up, but did you gain anything?
JOE GIRARDI: You want to see how quickly he can warm up. That's something we got an idea about. And I feel that he can do it if he has to do it.
Q: Joe, obviously you guys are never going to sneak up on anybody, regardless of what prognosticators might have said about other teams in the American League this year. That said, is it at all satisfying once you're finished? Two, you've been able to accomplish with this team what you're able to accomplish?
JOE GIRARDI: That is gratifying. We accomplished the first goal that we set out to do, win our division and have home-field advantage. But that's only the first goal. You can't be -- you can't sit on that. There's a lot of work to be done. We know how tough our opponent is. And it's going to be a tough series. When you go to spring training, that's your first goal, and to be able to accomplish that with some of the stuff that we went through is gratifying.
Q: Joe, how would you characterize your discussion with A.J. in telling him that he wouldn't be getting a start?
JOE GIRARDI: He was good about it. He was good about it. We talked about it, and I gave him the option, because he had just thrown about 100 pitches on Wednesday -- or Sunday, and it would have been his throw day, his bullpen day anyway. He said, "Yeah, I want to give it a shot." I said, "I'm going to have you face one hitter, that's it. I can't tell you exactly when it's going to be, but I'll try to give you sufficient time to warm up."
He was great about it.
Q: Joe, when you're dealing with the pitchers working on a lot of days rest like CC will be tomorrow, and the intensity is ratcheted up, what sort of advice do you give to a pitcher to get it going right away?
JOE GIRARDI: CC has had a lot of rest, but he threw on Sunday the simulated game. So he didn't have extra rest, to me. CC knows how to control his emotions. It's not something that I feel that I have to go to him and tell him, this is what I want you to do. CC has done it a lot.
Q: Joe, back in I think it was around the time Derek got his 3,000 hit, you said, "I defy anyone to think Derek can't hit .320 the rest of the way." What made you so confident he was finally going to turn it up a notch?
JOE GIRARDI: I just know the quality of the person, the quality of the athlete, and what's inside of him. As I said, I would never doubt Derek Jeter. I don't care how old he is. I really don't. This is a man who has a ton of pride in what he does and works very hard. If it can be overcome, he will find a way to do it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Joe.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.