Look, everyone knows the following two statements to be fact:
• David Phelps will start against the Texas Rangers on Monday night in at Yankee Stadium in place of CC Sabathia, and
• Derek Lowe will be a Yankee by that time.
So why won't Joe Girardi acknowledge them?
Two reasons. The first falls under the old "What if he gets hit by a bus?" philosophy the manager adopted last year when he refused to acknowledge that Ivan Nova was making a particular start.
"What if I say he is?" Girardi asked. "And then he goes out and gets hit by a bus?"
Even after being assured by the beat crew that if such a misfortune befell Nova, we would give the manager a pass, he persists in refusing to acknowledge the obvious in the event something unforeseen happens that might cause his plans to change. In the case of Phelps, it is the possibility that Phil Hughes could melt down early today against the Blue Jays, necessitating a long relief man. (Which, presumably, is why Ryota Igarashi was called up for the day from Scranton.
In any event, Girardi refused to name his starter for Monday -- "We've got to get through today. Obviously the usual suspects are the candidates; Phelpsy is a candidate. We've got to see what happens today," he said -- and clearly instructed Phelps to adopt the same line, because the young righty scampered off to the manager's office when he saw the beat crew advancing toward his locker.
When he returned, Phelps could hardly stifle a grin as he said, "Uh, Joe told me we're going to worry about today. If they need me today, I'm in the game. We'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow."
But rest assured, unless, heaven forbid, Phelps gets hit by a bus, he is starting Monday night.
As for Lowe, the deal has not been finalized, giving Girardi an easy out. "It's not official, so there's really nothing to talk about yet," he said.
The manager was persuaded, however, to talk about Lowe in general terms.
"He's had a great career," Girardi said. "He's pitched in big markets in big games, playoff games. He understands the importance of the months of August and September."
And he acknowledged that Lowe's repertoire, which induces a high percentage of groundouts, might be a good fit for the launching pad that is Yankee Stadium.
"In our ballpark, ground-ball pitchers are somewhat important," Girardi said.
And under pressure, he was forced to agree that if Phelps were added to the Yankees rotation, even temporarily, it would require the club to add a long man to their bullpen to replace him, a role the 39-year-old Lowe might be suited for.
"That would be something we'd definitely consider," he said.
See what we have to put up with everyday?