10/04/09 7:19 PM EST
Yanks play waiting game on roster, ALDS foe
Prep for first-round approach delayed as Central is decided
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
While the club has shown great interest in the battle between the Tigers and Twins to secure the American League Central, the ongoing fight is also holding up business on New York's end. The Yankees cannot iron out their final personnel decisions until one team emerges as the winner, which will come on Tuesday, when the two AL Central foes play in a division tiebreaker.
"We don't know who we're playing, and some of the moves can depend on the roster," manager Joe Girardi said prior to Sunday's 10-2 win over the Rays. "There are some things to still look at. It's kind of interesting not knowing who we're playing. We were going to have a meeting tomorrow to go over who we're playing, but we may not be able to do it."
By virtue of owning the best record in the AL, the Yankees have been given the option of selecting between a seven-day and eight-day AL Division Series schedule.
That decision is due one hour after New York's playoff opponent has been set, and while it is believed the Yankees will select the longer ALDS, which opens Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, that has not yet been made official.
"You've got to be careful what you ask for, that's for sure," Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "It's two great teams going down to the wire. It's just good for baseball."
Before the Tigers and Twins both won Sunday, Girardi said that if it comes down to a late-afternoon one-game playoff Tuesday at the Metrodome, the Yankees' coaching staff would not meet until Wednesday morning to go over scouting reports for their finalized opponent.
That should not present a particular disadvantage, however -- whether it winds up being Joe Mauer or Miguel Cabrera standing at the plate, Yankees pitchers should be armed with all of the necessary background information to proceed.
"The teams have been scouted, and we've already done a lot of work," Girardi said. "To me, it doesn't make a lot of sense to have two meetings to go over two teams. We'll wait until we find out."
With the Yankees heading back to New York after Sunday's game, some players will remain in Tampa, Fla., to form a "taxi squad," where a minicamp is being conducted this week to keep players in game shape. Others not targeted for the 25-man ALDS roster will fly with the club to New York and remain on call in the event of an injury.
With some roster spots still up for debate, particularly in the bullpen, the Yankees are continuing to eye possible contenders.
Joba Chamberlain is among the most interesting choices, being shuttled from the rotation to the bullpen in a possible audition to see how he would respond in a relief role in the playoffs. He pitched a scoreless inning out of the bullpen Sunday, including a strikeout.
Girardi also took an extra look at Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Dave Robertson and Phil Coke during Sunday's win.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.