CC, not Verlander, set for Game 5 if needed
Girardi willing to bring ace out of 'pen; Tigers' Game 3 starter out
NEW YORK -- The Yankees expect to tell CC Sabathia to lace up his game-day spikes for Thursday's Game 5 of the American League Division Series, just in case he is needed out of the bullpen.
But Tigers manager Jim Leyland was emphatic that Justin Verlander will watch the deciding game of the ALDS as a spectator, his workload complete for this playoff matchup.
Leyland said "no" twice at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday when asked if Verlander would be an option for him in Thursday's Game 5, echoing a statement he made after the hurler's Game 3 start at Comerica Park.
"I wouldn't do anything foolish," Leyland said that night. "I try not to do anything foolish with any of my pitchers, let alone an arm like that. You saw what a talent he is. I would say he's definitely done for this series."
Verlander said after Game 3 that he would "get in [Leyland's] ear" about trying to make a relief appearance in Game 5, if needed.
After Tuesday's Game 4, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira was asked if the team would have to think about the possibility of seeing Verlander come out of the bullpen gates in a tight spot.
"No matter who's out there, you've got to be prepared," Teixeira said. "Game 5 is one of those all bets are off, anyone's alive. We'll be ready for whoever gets out there and try to score some runs."
The Yankees had hoped to have Sabathia give them two full starts in the ALDS, but heavy rain in Game 1 limited them to getting two innings from their ace, plus a Game 3 start on short rest.
Thursday would be Sabathia's normal throw day, and Girardi said that his expectation is that the lefty would be available for some work if needed behind starter Ivan Nova.
"I would think that I would [have Sabathia], but I have to check with him," Girardi said. "I can check with him today, [but] it doesn't matter how he feels today, it matters how he feels [Thursday]. I would expect I would have him."
Leyland said that Game 2 starter Max Scherzer would be available in relief if needed, as well as relievers Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde.
Girardi said that he expects to have all hands on deck. The only pitcher who could be unavailable for him is Game 4 starter A.J. Burnett, who threw 81 pitches in 5 2/3 innings on Tuesday.
Even then, Girardi hedged and said that there's a chance.
"A.J. would probably be the one guy you would have to be careful," Girardi said. "But I would say in case of emergency, he's available, too."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.