NEW YORK -- Reporters filed into Eric Wedge's office in the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium on Monday, and the Indians' manager knew exactly what was coming. "Let me guess what you want to ask me about," Wedge said with a smile. Wedge makes it known that he doesn't read newspapers or Internet accounts of the goings-on with his club, but he nonetheless was well-aware that his decision not to start C.C. Sabathia on three days' rest for Monday's Game 4 of the American League Division Series was drawing plenty of attention -- and debate.
So Wedge calmly and carefully laid out a three-pronged rationale for going with veteran Paul Byrd. "One, [Byrd] has won 15 games for us, and we wouldn't be here without him," Wedge began. "Two, if you look at the history of [using pitchers on] three days' rest, it's nothing spectacular. Three, C.C. threw 114 pitches in five innings [in Game 1] and worked as hard as he has all year, and he's pushing 250 innings. We're very consistent with not putting our pitchers in harm's way, especially not our ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball." For Wedge, the decision -- which, essentially, was made before this series even began -- was a matter of "common sense," as he put it. "We're just not going to do it," Wedge said. "For us to even consider it, [Game 1] would have had to have been a very short day for C.C." Nor would Sabathia, who would start Game 5, if necessary, have gotten serious consideration for Monday's start if the Indians were down, 2-1, in the series, rather than up, 2-1. "If you talk about putting a player in harm's way, it doesn't matter where you are in the series," Wedge said. "Up, 2-0; up, 2-1; down, 2-1 -- it doesn't matter." For what it's worth, Sabathia, who has only pitched on three days' rest one time in his seven-year career, sided with the decision, which was agreed upon by all of the organization's higher-ups. "Byrdie is a veteran," Sabathia said. "He's been here, he's been in the postseason, he's been in this position before. He definitely deserves to start, the way he pitched this year. We have confidence that he's going to pitch a good game." And Byrd pitching a good game is likely the only way this topic will be put to rest. Six up, six down: Two rookie relievers have made two appearances for the Tribe thus far in the ALDS, and the Yankees are still waiting to get their first baserunner against them. Rafael Perez worked four perfect innings overall in Games 1 and 2 and has drawn raves from those in the national media. Jensen Lewis, meanwhile, has flown a bit further under the radar, but he's nonetheless pitched a pair of perfect innings, striking out four of the six batters he's faced. [Lewis has] been OK, huh?" Wedge said with a smile. "He's been real good for us the past couple months. He has a prominent role in our bullpen, and he's done a good job for us. He hasn't missed a beat so far here in the postseason."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.