NEW YORK -- The ninth inning could be an adventure for the Yankees on Friday night.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game he's not sure if he will have closer Mariano Rivera and setup man David Robertson, and Robertson later said he doesn't believe he'll be available. The manager added that he expects to go matchup by matchup in the ninth, provided the Yankees hold the lead.
Rivera has thrown the past three nights, including a rare four-out save on Wednesday, and Robertson has thrown in each of the past two games. Girardi wants to avoid burning his two best relievers as the Yankees enter their final 22 games of the year 2½ games out of the second wild card.
"I think that's first and foremost; you don't want them to get hurt because then they are down for a long period of time. And that would really hurt us," Girardi said. "I think you have to trust the communication that's between them and Larry [Rothschild] and me. Honest communication with how they're feeling."
Girardi said he would let the pair go through batting practice and then talk to them, and Rothschild, before making a decision.
If they can't go, Girardi will have to get creative in how he handles the ninth inning, as the only two pitchers on the roster who have recorded a save this season besides Robertson and Rivera are the ineffective Joba Chamberlain and long man Adam Warren.
With potentially just 22 games left in Rivera's career, Girardi acknowledged there's some credence to the thought that Rivera doesn't have to worry about the long-term effects of being overworked down the stretch. Still, Girardi would prefer to play it cautious with the 43-year-old who blew his sixth save Thursday.
"I would hate to be the guy that forced the guy into retirement early, so it's always a factor," Girardi said. "Maybe a guy can go out there four or five days in a row, but what's his stuff going to be like and then do you not have the good stuff and then you got to give him three days off. But that's something you think about, and I'm sure Mo thinks about, 'My plan is not to be closing games next year, so what do I have to save?'"
YOUKILIS AIMS TO RETURN: Injured Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis (back) said he is aiming to return during the final week of the season. He has not played since June 13 and has played in just 28 games this season. Youkilis said he is currently doing tee and toss and throwing from 60 feet and will head to Tampa Bay, Fla., on Monday when the Yankees hit the road. He said he's pain free.
KELLEY & PHELPS UPDATE: Girardi said he believed injured reliever Shawn Kelley (triceps) was going to play catch Friday and then progress to a bullpen. If those steps go well, he should be able to return to the bullpen. Starter David Phelps (forearm) threw a bullpen today and is scheduled to throw approximately one inning in a simulated game Monday.
ROSTER MOVE: The Yankees signed Matt Daley to the active roster, and infielder Corban Joseph was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Daley on the 40-man roster. Daley last pitched in the majors in 2011 and is 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA in 92 career games.