ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A day later, "the" topic of Saturday was still a topic.

After Kelly Shoppach broke up CC Sabathia's no-hitter with two outs in the eighth inning Saturday, Joe Girardi raised eyebrows and started debates when he said he planned to remove Sabathia no matter what Shoppach did.

Girardi said that with the lefthander on a pitch count of 110 to 115, Shoppach - who singled on his 111th pitch - was going to be his final hitter regardless.

Sabathia said he would have argued to stay in had he retired Shoppach, but he acknowledged it likely wouldn't have mattered and that he understood Girardi's reasoning.

Girardi went through his thought process again Sunday morning before the Yankees' 7-3 victory over the Rays, spending about nine minutes of his 13-minute session with reporters discussing the issue.

"I really believe CC understands the big picture," Girardi said. "Send him out there for the ninth and he throws 20 to 25 pitches and then he's not the same the whole year, you're going to question yourself and it would really hurt us."

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Girardi said he understood why his disclosure lit up talk- show phone lines. "People want to see no-hitters and see great accomplishments and I understand that," he said. "And I want to see great accomplishments from my players, but not at the risk of their health."

Sabathia threw 104 pitches in the opener at Fenway, and Girardi didn't think he was stretched out quite enough for 120.

"I have to do what I believe is right for CC and this organization," Girardi said. "I said yesterday, I would have been booed here - on the road I would have been booed - but that's part of the decisions you have to make as manager, and you can't be shortsighted. Yes, you focus on winning the game that day, but you can't be shortsighted on someone's health and the long-term effect it would have on your organization."