Let me begin this entry by posting the Yankees lineup for Game 1 of the American League Division Series. And this is the correct version. I promise.
Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Raul Ibanez DH
CC Sabathia LHP
Manager Buck Showalter had to make some hard decisions with his Division Series roster. He kept Tommy Hunter and Joe Saunders as potential long men in the bullpen, though Saunders isn't available tonight after starting the wild card game on Friday. Steve Johnson, who warmed up after Saunders faced two batters, didn't make the cut largely because of lingering doubts about the condition of his left knee.
"You can make a case for everybody who's been such contributors for us," Showalter said. "As good as we think Steve could feel, there's some unknown there with the knee. But we're going to keep him here."
"Obviously given it (the roster) a lot of thought and readdressed it this morning after the meeting last night to make sure after some sleep, which we didn't have yesterday, that we still felt the same way," Showalter said. "It was a good idea Dan (Duquette) had, so we went with what we felt yesterday. There's a lot of variables that I won't bore you with, but that's kind of where we're at, and we feel good about it and at the same time feel bad about it. You're always going to leave somebody off that was a contributor, but it can change very quickly, and that's the mindset they have to have. They'll all be here for the game tonight for the introductions."
Showalter and Duquette decided to keep Tommy Hunter on the roster.
"Tommy pitched very well out of the 'pen," Showalter said. "When we acquired Tommy, we felt like if we presented good options as a starter, we felt like Tommy could be a real contributor as a reliever, too, and he's certainly done that since he's pitched out of the 'pen. Plus, he can give us some length out of there if we need it. The offâ€‘day (Tuesday) plays into it a lot.
"If the weather looks good tomorrow, I think we'll get it in tonight, but with the offâ€‘day looming there, you don't worry too much about extending guys if they're the best option for you. But that was part of it. But the experience all means one thing, that you've done it before. It's kind of like Joe's experience in Texas. The last two have been real good, so I kind of lean on the latest experience. It's kind of like see a guy's numbers against a certain team, if you take them from 2006 as opposed to 2012, I kind of lean on the most recent stuff."
Showalter decided on his lineup on the plane ride back from Texas, which includes batting rookie Manny Machado sixth against Sabathia.
"With a guy like Sabathia, your whole mindset is try to figure out a way to get him out of the game before nine innings are up, because that's the biggest part of the equation," Showalter said. "We just try to separate the leftâ€‘handers a little bit and present, from what our roster has to happen, the most challenge. We had two or three lineups that we messed around with but this was the one we felt like we were going to go with really on the plane back."
Andy Pettitte started the first game that Showalter managed in the playoffs. Now Showalter will see him in Game 2.
Was it really? Good choice, huh? That was a real hard decision," Showalter said.
"It doesn't surprise me at all with Andy," Showalter said. "The heart that he has, you know, the heart and the makeup and the wantâ€‘to and all that stuff is great. This time of year talent plays. He is talented, and that's why he's still capable of giving his team a chance to win, because he's a talented young man.
"I felt at that time that Andy hadn't had that much experience under his belt, but that wasn't some astute evaluation to start him. Those things are easy. I'm sure the Yankee fans and baseball in general feel fortunate to have been around to see Andy pass their way, because he's a good father, good husband, good teammate, and a guy that it's important to him to be consistent and be there. So, that'll be tough tomorrow. Not that tonight's not."
Anything short of a championship is regarded as a failure in New York. Does Showalter want his players to have the same mindset?
"You're always walking that line," he said. "I told them before the Texas game, I told them before, have fun. This is something, you always hope that you get a chance to do it again, but you don't know. One of the things I'll tell them, have a blast, trust yourself, let it rip, have fun. You know, you don't want to insult their intelligence with obvious things because they get it. The last thing you want to do is draw more attention to it.
"There's a little comfort in the fact that it's not a sudden life, sudden death game, but we all know how important each one of these games are. Just do the math. But if you're been in our clubhouse this year, the one thing I don't have to worry about them is living in the moment, enjoying it, but the competitive part of it, they get the opportunity. You hope it isn't rare, but you approach it that way. It's important because it's important to our fans, but our guys have a grip on the reality and the whole scheme of life of what's going on here the next couple days, and hopefully whatever number in New York."