That decision regarding their left-handed ace and Game 1 starter is among the most pressing issues that will face the Yankees as they return to work at Yankee Stadium, looking to plot ahead as preparations advance for the American League Championship Series, which begins on Friday at 7:57 p.m. ET.
"We've talked a little bit about what we might do, but we told [Sabathia] to concentrate on Game 1," manager Joe Girardi said in a conference call on Tuesday. "That's the most important game, and we'll go from there."
After Sabathia starts for New York on Friday, the consideration is that he could be brought back on three days' rest to pitch on Oct. 20 against the Angels in Anaheim. That would allow the Yankees to have Sabathia ready to pitch a potential Game 7 on Oct. 25 with regular rest.
With A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte starting Games 2 and 3, the other choices for Game 4 would be Joba Chamberlain and Chad Gaudin.
Chamberlain settled nicely into a bullpen role during the three-game sweep of the Twins in the AL Division Series, appearing in all three games and hurling 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Gaudin, New York's long man in the ALDS, was the only pitcher not needed against Minnesota.
"Joba has positive experiences out of the bullpen, and if you go to a three-man rotation, obviously he stays in the bullpen," Girardi said. "If you go to a four-man rotation, then we have to weigh the benefits of either putting Joba in the bullpen or Chad in the bullpen."
The Yankees have not made a concrete decision if they will continue to pair Burnett with backup catcher Jose Molina. The battery got the job done in Game 2 against the Twins, as Burnett hurled six innings of one-run, three-hit ball. Using Molina with Burnett increases the odds of carrying rookie third-string catcher Francisco Cervelli on the roster.
"I don't expect a lot of changes at this point," Girardi said. "There's some things that we need to discuss. It's very possible that we could carry three catchers again. We'll talk about game-by-game as we get into it, but I don't expect a ton of changes."
LONG AND SHORT OF IT
|Days of rest||Wins||Losses||ERA|
|Six or more||17||10||3.92|
Other topics of discussion could include replacing left-hander Damaso Marte -- who surrendered hits to both of the hitters he faced in the 11th inning of Game 2, setting up Dave Robertson's "Houdini" escape -- with right-hander Brian Bruney, who continues to work out at the club's complex in Tampa, Fla., in an effort to keep him sharp.
"Bruney's a guy that we sent down there because we believe he's still in the mix," Girardi said.
Girardi also said the Yankees will take a look at carrying speedster Freddy Guzman, infielder Ramiro Pena or right-hander Sergio Mitre on the ALCS roster, though those changes appear less likely.
Several players were at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday for an optional workout that was closed to the media. Gaudin threw a 50-pitch bullpen session, Alfredo Aceves threw 30 pitches, Phil Coke and Robertson threw 20 pitches each, and Marte threw 15 pitches.
In addition, Johnny Damon was the only starting position player to hit pitching at the stadium, volunteering to show up after going 1-for-12 with a four-strikeout game in the ALDS.
Eric Hinske, Jerry Hairston Jr., Brett Gardner and Cervelli joined Damon in taking hacks on the field. Nick Swisher, who was also 1-for-12 in the ALDS, worked out but did not hit.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.