NEW YORK -- Not all teams can definitively announce their Opening Day starter more than three weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, but in CC Sabathia's case, the Yankees see no reason to wait.
Manager Joe Girardi said that Sabathia is scheduled to pitch the season opener on April 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, though that was really no secret. A more pressing issue for Girardi is how he'll align the rest of his pitching rotation, and that has no definitive answer yet.
"I can tell you it won't be a seven- or six-man rotation; it'll be five," Girardi said, with a laugh. "If we were going to leave today, we'd have to make some tough decisions. It's something that we're going to take time to evaluate. I'm in no hurry.
"I can tell you that CC is in our rotation and that he's going to start the first game of the year. But in saying that, I'm not sure that everything is done before we go to Spring Training. Right now, we've got seven starters and we're going to have to make some decisions."
In addition to Sabathia, the Yankees have Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda, A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes competing for slots. Girardi said that he would expect Pineda and Nova to be in the rotation. It's also unlikely Kuroda wouldn't, though the Yankees have not yet officially announced his one-year, $10 million contract.
That leaves Burnett, Garcia and Hughes to slug it out for the final spot, barring a trade.
Girardi said that his decision would be made by "who we think our best five starters are and how our 12-man staff works the best."
"Right now, it appears that we have a surplus of starters, but a lot can change," Girardi said.
The manager said that he was in favor of the four-player deal with the Mariners to acquire Pineda. New York sent catcher Jesus Montero and right-hander Hector Noesi to Seattle in exchange for Pineda and Minor League right-hander Jose Campos.
"Obviously you want the strength of your club to be your pitching staff, in a sense, because it all starts with that," Girardi said. "I think we've improved our rotation. We had a really good year last year and got a lot from our pitching staff.
"I think we've improved that. We've got a young man in Pineda that I believe has huge upside. Trades are sometimes evaluated in the first week or first month, but I think this trade will take a while to evaluate."
Posada wants to be involved, puts family first
NEW YORK -- The last time a catcher on a Yankees World Series-winning team retired, it took about a year before he found himself stirring, needing to get back to the ballpark in some capacity.
That was the way it went for Joe Girardi, who bounced from the broadcast booth to the dugout before eventually landing in the Yankees' managerial chair. Jorge Posada isn't ready to think about a similar future, but he also isn't about to rule out any possibilities.
"I want to stay in the game," Posada said. "I really don't know what's going to happen from here, but eventually I will do something within the game."
Posada said that he has already received offers from ESPN, MLB Network and the YES Network, but he doesn't anticipate being on the air anytime soon.
"I don't see myself on the mike," Posada said. "I really don't know. I want to take it easy."
General manager Brian Cashman said that Posada can consider the door wide open for a return to the Yankees someday, noting that Andy Pettitte also feels like he is still part of the family, even though he is not employed in any official capacity.
"The one thing about this that George Steinbrenner set up a long time ago was keeping it in the family, to the best of your abilities," Cashman said. "And so I wouldn't be surprised at some point that Jorge will be working with us. I'm not saying anything in the near term, but he's a Yankee for life, whether it's a Spring Training format or something bigger.
"Right now, it's not something anybody's focused on, but one thing he did clearly get from this is that he didn't want to wear another uniform -- he wanted to be a Yankee for life."
Girardi said that at the least, he expects Posada to stop by the Yankees' Spring Training camp this year. At some point, perhaps Posada will entertain the idea of joining the ranks of guest instructors with other Bombers greats, but Girardi also thinks Posada could adapt to coaching or managing.
"I think Jorge can do what he wants," Girardi said. "I do remember that feeling of wanting to spend that first summer at home with your family, because it's been so long. I did the same thing, and after a while, I got bored and had to go to work.
"The hardest part for me when I retired was when Spring Training started and you weren't going, and then the season starts and you're watching games on TV, not playing. It just feels kind of strange."
Montero trade didn't impact Posada's decision
NEW YORK -- Word of Jorge Posada's decision to retire had already leaked by the time the Yankees shipped designated hitter Jesus Montero to the Mariners in a four-player trade, but Posada said he never -- not even for a second -- reconsidered.
"No, [it did] not even cross my mind," Posada said. "I didn't even think about DHing for them or anything, because I knew it wasn't going to happen."
Posada said that if the Yankees had wanted him back, he would not have approached the offseason any differently. Posada said that he never started his regular winter training, knowing after the American League Division Series that there were no next games to prepare for.
"I knew at the end of that game," Posada said. "That's why I got so emotional, because I knew that was it."
Derek Jeter opined that he still believes Posada could hit Major League pitching if he wanted to, but general manager Brian Cashman said he did not consider bringing Posada back for 2012, even after Montero was deleted from New York's DH mix.
"The trade was certainly kind of unexpected, but an opportunity I felt was worth taking," Cashman said. "But once it was made, I didn't necessarily feel all of sudden that Jorge should be a consideration for that position."
Asked if he was surprised by the Yankees' trade of Montero, Posada replied, "When you need pitching, it's tough to trade somebody like that, but [if] you're trying to get somebody, you have to trade somebody."