Yanks add intrasquad game due to rainout
Move allows Bombers to better evaluate pitching competition
TAMPA, Fla. -- Joe Girardi ran a hand across the back of his neck, glancing at a telephone that would soon ring with more information. A rainout at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Sunday allowed the Yankees' players to knock off early, but for the manager, it created -- in his words -- a mess.
While heavy rains pelted the tarpaulin outside, Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland huddled with a head-scratcher of figuring out how to make sure eight pitchers could get into action on Monday thanks to the canceled game.
"In the big scope of things, in three months, you're not going to say the rain affected you," Girardi said. "But right now, it's a little pain in the rear."
The solution, it was decided, was to create another game. After checking with other clubs to see if anyone could spare hitters to play an unscheduled split-squad game, the Yankees opted to create their own.
In front of thousands of empty blue seats and few other witnesses, the Yankees will field two teams at their home stadium on Monday morning. Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Damaso Marte will hurl for one squad, with Joba Chamberlain, Chan Ho Park and Dave Robertson firing for another.
Then in the game that is printed on the schedule, A.J. Burnett will start against the Phillies on MLB.TV at 1:05 p.m. ET in Clearwater, Fla., with Phil Hughes serving in relief.
Problem solved, providing Girardi and company one long morning and afternoon to evaluate Chamberlain and Hughes in the ongoing battle to complete New York's rotation, a decision Girardi hopes to make by March 25 or 26.
"When you look at it, it also affects your bullpen," Girardi said. "We don't look at it as just the fifth starter. We look at the staff combined and how it affects every move that we make. The other 11 spots in the pitching staff come into play. It's something that we think a lot about, but I'm able to go to sleep every night.
"It does take up a little more of our time. But if we weren't doing that, we'd be doing something else."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.