CHICAGO -- Brett Gardner made his case to start against a left-hander by going 2-for-2 Thursday, including a walk-off single in the Yankees' 3-2, 12-inning win over the Rangers.
So with a southpaw taking the hill against the Yankees for the third straight game Friday, Gardner received his seventh start against a left-hander this season, batting eighth.
Gardner, who did not start the last two games, has hit .290 against left-handers this season. Lefties are hitting an astounding .367 off the Cubs' Doug Davis this season, making the decision an easy one for manager Joe Girardi.
"Well, one of the things is the last year, what you saw was I'd give Gardy a day off, I'd give [Curtis Granderson] a day off," Girardi said. "It's just been really difficult to get Grandy a day off, and Marcus [Thames] did a tremendous job last year against left-handers, and Andruw [Jones] we brought in to give us power against left-handers.
"But there are days that I'm going to choose to play Gardy, that's what I'm going to do. As I said, it's been difficult to get Grandy a day off."
Granderson is tied for the team lead in home runs and is second in RBIs. More impressively, he has hit nine of his 21 homers off left-handers.
After his walk-off hit Thursday, Gardner understood the reasoning for so few opportunities against a left-hander, saying it did not bother him.
"Not really, because it's one thing I can't really control," he said. "You're just kind of the odd man out. It's not a case of not doing well or underperforming. You have other guys, they're going to play against them, and I understand that.
"You can't take Curtis out of the lineup. Let's get serious. He's one of the hottest hitters in the game, and obviously [Nick Swisher] has been swinging the bat well against lefties -- really, really well -- and Andruw, obviously, is going to play against lefties, too. And it's just part of it. Just stay ready, and whenever they call my name, be ready to go."
Rothschild happy to be back in Chicago
CHICAGO -- It might be a little strange for Larry Rothschild to pick up the phone this weekend and call down to the visiting bullpen, as the Yankees' pitching coach makes his return to Wrigley Field.
"After nine years of coming in the other door, it's obviously different," said Rothschild, who left the Cubs for the Yankees this year. "It would be for anybody. We're here to get a job done and that's it."
Under Rothschild's watch from 2002-10, the Cubs led the Major Leagues in strikeouts (11,604), but were never able to reach the ultimate goal -- a World Series win, something the Cubs have hungered for since 1908.
"They gave me every opportunity here," Rothschild said. "There were a lot of good times, but we didn't finish the deal. It didn't work out the way we wanted. We won some games and had a couple of real nice years, but we just didn't get that last win in the last game of the year."
Rothschild said he has texted back and forth with some players and staff members, and the weekend should provide some nostalgia -- as it will for manager Joe Girardi, first-base coach Mick Kelleher and bullpen coach Mike Harkey, all of whom played for the Cubs.
"This is where I came as a boy, going to the ballpark dreaming about being a player here," Girardi said. "It's always exciting for me to come back, see a lot of family and friends. A lot of friends are coming to the game today, so it'll be nice."
Born in Chicago, the 57-year-old Rothschild has relocated to Tampa, Fla. -- something that made the Yankees job very appealing as he asked the Cubs to allow him to pursue the vacancy left by the dismissal of Dave Eiland after the 2010 season.
"I'm pretty fortunate that I can come back and say hi to people," Rothschild said. "I grew up here. My parents are here, I get to spend some time there, my kids can spend some time with their grandparents. That's good."
Girardi says 'pen is 'little bit more settled'
CHICAGO -- The bullpen was supposed to be the Yankees' strength heading into the season, helping to make up for a starting rotation that figured to have a little patchwork at the back end.
Rafael Soriano is out until at least July, and Joba Chamberlain has been lost for the year with Tommy John surgery, yet a lower-profile mix of pitchers has eased the Yankees' concerns for the moment.
"I think we're a little bit more settled," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The front office has done a good job of going out and finding people that can help us."
That includes right-hander Cory Wade, who made his second appearance in pinstripes Thursday after being cut loose from the Rays' Triple-A roster -- his first big league duty since 2009 with the Dodgers.
"I heard about Cory in L.A., but I didn't know where he was, and then he was in Triple-A pitching for us," Girardi said. "We talked about, 'Well, let's bring him up.'"
Dave Robertson has slipped into the eighth-inning role, and the Yankees will use Wade, Luis Ayala and Boone Logan in the sixth or seventh innings, as well as Hector Noesi.
General manager Brian Cashman has sounded the call that he will be looking for more upgrades, having found a level of success in plucking starter Brian Gordon from the Phillies' Triple-A roster this week.
"I think they're always trying to improve us, and that's the great thing about being a Yankee," Girardi said.
The Yankees will try to get Jorge Posada at least one at-bat per game in National League parks to keep his bat fresh, something they also tried with Hideki Matsui in 2009. Posada is hitting .321 (26-for-81) since May 8 and could also get a start at first base on this trip.
Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain had no issues with his Tommy John surgery, performed Thursday by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. Chamberlain is returning home to Nebraska until he can begin his rehab program.
With afternoon baseball on the slate for two of the three games at Wrigley Field, the Yankees entered play on Friday with a Major League-best 18-3 record (.857) in day games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees are the first Major League team since the '58 Yankees to win 18 of their first 21 day games.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch. Matt Fortuna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.