NEW YORK -- As the Yankees head into the final eight games of their regular season, Joe Girardi and his staff are facing at least one more big decision: Do they send Phil Hughes out to make his next start, or skip him in the rotation for the crucial series against the Tampa Bay Rays which begins Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium?
Well, it sounds very much like if Hughes gets to pitch again at all this season, it will be against the Astros in Houston in one of the final three games of the season next weekend.
Asked before today's game against the Giants if he would keep CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova on rotation -- meaning, lined up to pitch Games 1, 2 and 3 against the Rays, Girardi said, "It's something we have discussed and we have to make a decision pretty quick about what we're going to do."
Which most likely means Hughes is out for the Rays series, probably a prudent decision considering the Yankees are probably going to have to sweep those games to have any hope of slipping into a playoff berth.
• Austin Romine passed an ImPACT test last week and was cleared to return to action after suffering a concussion Sept. 10 in Baltimore, but Girardi said he is still not ready to play, and may be done for the season. "After he exercises a little bit, he’s still not 100 percent. So I can’t tell you. I don’t know if he’ll play the rest of the year. I'm not real sure."
Which probably means he won't.
• Same goes for Brett Gardner, whose level of activity since suffering an oblique strain Sept. 12 in Baltimore has been limited to spiking Yankees PR man Jason Zillo's coffee with Tabasco sauce in Toronto the other day. "He’s not really doing too much," Girardi said. "He’ll probably start maybe some light exercises, maybe some turning and stuff. But there’s not a whole lot there yet."
• Despite the Giants starting right-hander Ryan Vogelsong today, Girardi opted to go with right-handed hitting Mark Reynolds at first base over lefty Lyle Overbay, citing the success of right-handed hitters against Vogelsong. He didn't mention Overbay's career line against Vogelsong: 1-for-10 with six Ks.
• Girardi is still hopeful of playing Alex Rodriguez at third base this season, but said it will not happen before Tuesday's game against the Rays at the earliest.
• Nova is 6-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 11 interleague starts but has never faced the Giants. Same goes for Vogelsong against the Yankees. He is 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 24 career interleague starts. The only Yankee with any numbers against him is former Chicago Cub Alfonso Soriano, who is 5-for-15.