DETROIT -- Should the Yankees be able to prolong their season past Thursday's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, they expect to have Phil Hughes healthy and available on their pitching staff.

Hughes was forced to leave his Game 3 start at Comerica Park after just three-plus innings and 61 pitches with lower back stiffness. Hughes lobbied to stay in the game but was overruled by manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

"We think he's going to be available for us," Girardi said. "Not today, but after today, maybe. I think he's going to be fine."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he would not permit CC Sabathia to pitch on what would be two days' rest for a potential Game 7 on Sunday in New York. That would likely mean the start would go to Hughes.

No change in Girardi's lineup philosophy

DETROIT -- When Joe Girardi returned to his hotel room after Wednesday's rainout at Comerica Park, the Yankees' manager said he relaxed for a few minutes by watching an episode of "Pizza Wars" on the Travel Channel.

By morning, Girardi was sure of at least two things: He has an insatiable craving for deep-dish Chicago pie, and Alex Rodriguez was still not going to be in his starting lineup for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.

"It's not like anything's changed overnight," Girardi said. "You look at what you look at on a daily basis, and it's not like it's changed. When I made my decision, I felt like I made the best decision."

ALCS

That means the Yankees will keep their lineup the same as originally posted, as they fight for their playoff lives against right-hander Max Scherzer and a Tigers club hoping to clinch the AL pennant. Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson remain on the bench for Game 4.

Rodriguez's struggles have been well examined by this point, as his persistent benchings have become a sideshow for the ALCS. Rodriguez is 3-for-23 in the playoffs and 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitching.

"I don't necessarily think it's bat speed," Girardi said. "I've seen him hit the ball in BP and I've seen him hit it a long ways, and you've got to have bat speed to do that. It's just, he's scuffling."

With the Yankees trailing, 2-1, Girardi declined to use Rodriguez as a pinch-hitter for Raul Ibanez in the ninth inning of Game 3, saying that he didn't want the Tigers to bring in right-hander Joaquin Benoit. Girardi said that he wouldn't rule out using Rodriguez as a pinch-hitter in other situations.

"I'll look for a spot," Girardi said. "If there's a spot that I believe he can really help us, I'm not going to hesitate."

Martin starts, but thumb has Yankees cautious

DETROIT -- Yankees catcher Russell Martin's jammed right thumb was such a concern on Thursday, the team constructed a lineup that included backup catcher Chris Stewart, manager Joe Girardi said.

But Martin said that his thumb was not an issue and promised that he would be ready to play in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.

"I'm sure the day off helped his thumb, but it's something he's been fighting for a little while," Girardi said.

Martin was seen grimacing in pain during the late innings of Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Tigers in Game 3 at Comerica Park, receiving attention from head athletic trainer Steve Donohue, but he remained in the game. Stewart has not appeared in any of the Yankees' eight postseason games.

Bombers bits

• Yankees captain Derek Jeter has been in text message contact with several players on the club, as well as Girardi, during the ALCS. Jeter is in Charlotte, N.C., awaiting left ankle surgery to be performed on Saturday.

• The Yankees expect Boone Logan to be available for Game 4 after throwing 2 1/3 innings of relief in Game 3. There had been a question about his availability before Wednesday's rainout.

• Through eight postseason games, the Yankees' team ERA was 2.25, the 10th best for a single postseason in team history. It is the lowest mark since the Yankees' 1.60 team ERA in their five-game World Series win over the Reds in 1961.

The problem, and this should be no surprise by now, has been the hitting. The Yankees' team batting average through eight games was .200 (58-for-290); only two Yankees clubs have finished the postseason lower. Those honors go to the 1962 Yankees (.199), who defeated the Giants, 4-3, in the World Series, and the '63 Yankees (.171), who lost to the Dodgers, 4-0, in the World Series.