"Have your spikes on and be ready to go" is the message he'll send to his pitching staff.
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With his team on the verge of reaching the ALCS for the third consecutive year, Girardi is taking the all-hands-on-deck approach. Girardi said Sabathia -- and even Game 4 winner A.J. Burnett -- will be available in relief, if necessary.
"I have to check with him," Girardi said Wednesday of Sabathia, who was uncharacteristically wild Monday in the Yankees' 5-4 Game 3 loss.
"It doesn't matter how he feels [yesterday], it matters how he feels [today]. I would expect I would have him. A.J. would probably be the one guy you would have to be careful with. But I would say in case of emergency he's available, too."
And Girardi left little doubt that his rested closer, Mariano Rivera, also could see a heavy dose of action. "He's the one-plus [inning] guy," the manager said with a smile.
But while Girardi prepares to bring in the big guns for the biggest game of the season, Jim Leyland is taking a far different approach. The Tigers manager twice said no when asked if MVP candidate Justin Verlander would make an appearance out of the bullpen.
Should starter Doug Fister get into trouble, Leyland said his strategy will be to use former Yankees lefty Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde. "There's no secret to that," Leyland said. "That's what we would like to get through the game with."
Verlander, the anticipated Cy Young winner, clocked 100 mph or more at least 15 times in Game 3 to lead the Tigers to a 2-1 series advantage. He allowed four runs in eight innings and struck out 11.
Had rain last Friday night not forced a resumption of Game 1 the following day, perhaps Verlander would be preparing to play a key role Thursday night. But Leyland refused to harp on hypotheticals.
"I don't think it's disappointing at all," he said of not being able to use Verlander in Game 5. "I think what happened is you saw him and CC in that game at home. I think it was electric. I think certainly everybody got their money's worth. I would assume the TV ratings were good.
"You saw 100 mile-per-hour, 101 mile-per-hour fastball. No, that's just the way it played out. I don't think it's disappointing. I'm thankful everybody got to see him. To be honest with you, our fans got to see that game that Verlander pitched. So it worked out pretty good. No problem."