NEW YORK -- Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes expects to throw a bullpen session this coming weekend in order to be ready to make one final start of the regular season in the Yankees' series at Tampa Bay from Sept. 26-28. Hughes missed his start Wednesday after he aggravated a herniated disc in his lower back that he had originally injured in 2004.

"If I wouldn't have had this, I would have had two more starts left," Hughes said. "And now, hopefully I'll get one. In that respect, I'd like to get some more work in."

Hughes began feeling pain in his lower back during a bullpen session Friday and had an MRI on Wednesday. Though his doctors said the injury would heal on its own, the team decided to give him an epidural shot in order to speed up his recovery with the playoffs looming. Hughes said that the disc had been aggravated in the years since the original injury, but his pain wasn't subsiding at the rate it has in the past.

"I could have gone out there two days ago and been 90 percent," Hughes said. "They want to make sure that I can go out there and give my best stuff. It may be something that I have to treat and make sure it's right, but if I'm out on the mound, then it'll be 100 percent."

For Hughes, a final start of the year could help the Yankees evaluate how he will be used in the playoffs after a difficult 2011 season. Hughes missed two months during the first half of the season with inflammation in his pitching shoulder and has posted an unimpressive 6.00 ERA when he has been healthy.

"I want to go out there and pitch really well, get my ERA under six, hopefully, and go from there," Hughes said. "Whatever's going to go wrong seems like it has this year. It's been tough, but what are you going to do? I've just got to make the most of it."

Martin: 'I hate the Red Sox'

NEW YORK -- Russell Martin's views on the American League Wild Card chase won't win him any buddies in Boston, but his sentiments should gather plenty of support in the Bronx.

Martin said on Thursday that he'd love to see the Yankees play spoiler this weekend at Yankee Stadium and try to knock the reeling Red Sox out of the postseason completely.

"Anything to get the Red Sox out would be awesome for me," Martin said. "They're coming up next, so it'll be fun."

Asked why he felt so strongly, Martin responded, "Because I hate the Red Sox."

A career Dodger before this season, Martin said that his first season in pinstripes formed a healthy disdain for the team's AL East rivals.

"Of course it's this year," he said. "They are fun to play against just because they have a quality team and are gritty and play hard and stuff, but I'd love to see them lose. ... I guess it just comes with the territory, you know? When you wear the pinstripes, you just kind of learn to be that way, I guess."

The Red Sox were one of the teams Martin considered signing with last offseason, along with the Blue Jays. But Martin thought the Yankees were more aggressive in their pursuit, convincing him to ink a one-year, $4 million deal.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi seemed to be amused by Martin's comments.

"I don't ever like to fuel anything, that's the bottom line, but boys will be boys," Girardi said.

Martin shrugged when asked if avoiding a possible American League Championship Series meeting with the Red Sox was a consideration. The Yankees are 4-11 against Boston this year, coming into a three-game series that opens on Friday.

"They've given us a hard time all year," Martin said. "I don't think we're scared of them or anything. We'll see what happens. If we play them, we play them. We just have to beat them."

For the record, Martin added with a grin that he doesn't hate the Rays or the Angels, teams that would benefit if the Yankees handle their business against Boston.

"It's good baseball. These teams are going to be fighting for it. It's going to be fun to be the spoiler," Martin said.

CC likely to finish season with 19 wins

NEW YORK -- Yankees lefty CC Sabathia will likely fall one victory shy of his second consecutive 20-win season.

New York manager Joe Girardi said Thursday that Sabathia's start in Game 2 of Wednesday's doubleheader against Tampa Bay will likely be his last of the regular season in order to get Sabathia some rest before the American League Division Series.

In order to be on five days' rest for the first game of the Division Series next Friday, Sabathia will throw between 45-50 pitches in a simulated game Sunday.

"If I would have started a game, that's probably what it would have been anyway," Sabathia said of his pitch count. "I want to be on [five days' rest] going into Game 1, so we'll do it on Sunday."

The rest will be good for Sabathia, as Girardi said the Yankees will consider using a three-man rotation in the ALDS. This means Sabathia would likely be asked to pitch Game 4 on three days' rest should it be necessary, something he has done in the past and said he would be comfortable doing again.

"Maybe looking back when I'm done playing, I'll say, 'Maybe I wish I had a chance to win it,'" said Sabathia, who is 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA this season, and made three starts chasing win No. 20 (one loss, two no-decisions). "But right now, I don't really care. I'm just focused on trying to win a championship."

Bombers bits

• Jorge Posada's two-run single on Thursday to help the Yankees clinch the American League East may have secured his place on the team's postseason roster. Manager Joe Girardi said that he couldn't say 100 percent for sure, but added, "I expect him to be there."

• The Yankees will welcome left-hander Manny Banuelos, right-hander Adam Warren and right-hander David Phelps to the clubhouse for the Red Sox series for the organization's rookie program. They will participate in pregame workouts and scouting meetings but will not be in uniform for the games.

• Hall of Famer Yogi Berra called the Yankees' clubhouse on Thursday, cheering on his favorite team. "He just congratulated our club and what we accomplished," Girardi said. "He'll be here [Friday]. I'm looking forward to seeing him."


 • Dominican Republic Minister of Sports and Recreation Felipe Payano was on hand to throw out Thursday's ceremonial first pitch and greeted several Yankees players in the clubhouse.