10/03/06 8:31 PM ET
Notes: One inning at a time for Rivera
Bernie to be used off the bench; Unit on track for Game 3
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
At least that's what manager Joe Torre keeps telling himself.
Rivera, who might be the best pitcher in the history of the postseason, has bailed the Yankees out for the past decade with numerous two-inning outings.
"It's nice to have had that option," Torre said. "Not that every time an eighth inning came up, we threw him out there. We've done it on occasion in the postseason, but knowing he was available in the eighth gave you a sense of security."
But after missing more than three weeks in September with a mild muscle strain in his right forearm, Rivera hasn't pitched more than one inning in a game, and Torre wants to keep it that way.
"To take that chance at this point in time, you have no time to get him well," Torre said. "Even though he has evidently pitched with it a little bit, I really don't want to go there."
Rivera has stated repeatedly over the past two weeks that he would be ready to pitch more than one inning if his team needed that, but he has no plans to question Torre's decision.
"I feel good about it," Rivera said. "He's the manager. He calls all the shots. I'll just have to be ready for the ninth. What I say doesn't mean anything. What matters is what the manager says. If the manager says one inning, then one inning it is."
Rivera pitched four scoreless innings after returning from his injury on Sept. 22, allowing four hits while striking out six. Although he said he is ready to take the ball whenever his manager hands it to him, Rivera acknowledges that he is not necessarily at full strength.
"I won't say I'm 100 percent," Rivera admitted. "It's the playoffs, so there's no time to lay back. You have to leave it all on the table."
Torre has managed Rivera for the past 11 seasons, and the closer is confident that the right decisions will be made.
"I haven't pitched two innings since the injury, so I don't know how it is right now," Rivera said. "It's the playoffs, so there's nothing to turn back. Everything is going forward. I'll do what I have to do."
While Torre doesn't plan on pitching Rivera for two innings, he wouldn't rule out using him in the eighth inning if he believed that would be the most important in the game.
"You never know. I certainly wouldn't rule it out," Torre said. "It's easy to say I'd never do that, but then the game develops and you say, 'Wow, here we are.'"
However, if the bullpen phone rings and Rivera is called on to get more than three outs to close a game, he'll be ready.
"I won't be surprised," Rivera said. "That won't surprise me at all."
Missing in action: Bernie Williams has played a major role in each of the Yankees' past 11 postseasons, but this October, the longest-tenured Yankee will serve as a pinch-hitting option off the bench.
With Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu in the outfield and Jason Giambi occupying the designated hitter spot, there haven't been many opportunities for Williams to see action.
"Bernie is certainly aware of his presence," Torre said. "He's done a good job coming off the bench, and the fact that he's DH'd on occasions has helped him get used to that pinch-hitting role. That's basically his job."
Torre, who has a very close relationship with Williams, has talked with the veteran throughout the entire season about his role, so Williams' status shouldn't come as a surprise.
"Everybody is aware of everybody else's presence," Torre said. "With Bernie, when you look around and see what jobs are available, there's really not a lot out there."
Joltin' Joe: Joe Girardi, who played for the Yankees from 1996-99 and served as Torre's bench coach in 2005, was dismissed as Marlins manager on Tuesday.
Torre spoke with Girardi on Monday, as he prepared for his meeting with Florida owner Jeffrey Luria.
"He knew what he was going in there to do, and he was disappointed," Torre said. "He certainly wasn't going to be surprised by what was going to happen."
Girardi led a Marlins team loaded with rookies to a 78-84 record, keeping them in the NL Wild Card race until September. Internal disputes with the front office led to the move.
"He sounded fine, but he was disappointed," Torre said "He moved his family down there, but it's one of those things. When you play this game or you manage, there are a lot of things that are out of your control. You do as good a job as you can do."
There has been speculation that Girardi will be a candidate for the Cubs' managerial job.
"I think he'll get another opportunity," Torre said. "With Girardi's work ethic and passion for what he does, I'm sure he'll do a good job again, wherever he goes."
With Larry Bowa and Tony Pena possibly garnering interest from other teams, Torre said he would certainly be interested in bringing Girardi back to the Yankees if he didn't land another job.
"You'd have to be interested in someone with his experience, but we're well-manned at this point," Torre said. "If one of my coaches gets an opportunity to move on, we'd have to look at him."
Unit on track: Randy Johnson threw in the outfield before Tuesday's game, keeping him lined up to pitch Game 3 on Friday in Detroit.
Torre said that Johnson would throw a bullpen session on Wednesday, then fly ahead to Detroit.
No starter has been named for a potential Game 4 on Saturday, but Torre indicated that Jaret Wright would be ready and waiting if the Yankees needed a long reliever to back up Johnson on Friday.
Welcome back: Tino Martinez, who played first base on the four championship teams from 1996-2000, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1.
Martinez played in New York from 1996-2001, then again in 2005 before retiring last winter and joining ESPN as an analyst.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.