- Last Updated: 6:57 AM, August 29, 2010
- Posted: 1:22 AM, August 28, 2010
CHICAGO -- Joe Girardi may have sent A.J. Burnett a very public message last night.
After the White Sox shelled Burnett in a 9-4 victory in front of 38,596 at U.S. Cellular Field, the Yankees manager admitted he is ready to take a hard look at his very shaky rotation.
"We will evaluate after the weekend," said Girardi, who has CC Sabathia starting tonight and neophyte Ivan Nova going tomorrow.
Asked if that evaluation involved looking at Burnett (9-12), who has been punished in his last two outings, Girardi left the door wide open.
"You can take it whatever way you want," Girardi said. "My job is to evaluate this team after the weekend and see where we are at after this weekend."
Where they are right now is locked in a pennant race with the Rays and the Red Sox for the AL East lead and the wild-card slot. The Yankees remain tied with the Rays for first place in the AL East, but by winning, 3-1, at Tampa Bay last night, the third-place Red Sox moved within 4½ lengths of the leaders.
In his rotation, Girardi already has replaced struggling Javier Vazquez with Nova. Now, he could insert Vazquez for Burnett. Girardi's other options include Sergio Mitre, who replaced Burnett in the fourth inning last night, and Chad Gaudin.
But sending Burnett to the bullpen is dicey. Girardi would run the risk of shattering whatever is left of his confidence. Burnett has three years left on his contract, and the Yankees are going to need him because with $49.5 million owed to him over that time, he is too expensive to deal.
Nevertheless, the way he has been pitching in the last two starts makes you wonder if the Yankees are better off without Burnett going every five days.
"I don't know what that means," Burnett said when Girardi's 'evaluation' comment was presented to him. "Joe's the manager. I look forward to my next start. [Not making the start] would surprise me, but he makes the decisions."
If Burnett gets the ball Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium against the Athletics, he should pitch better than last night, when he was spanked for nine runs (eight earned) and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.
"I am not getting swings [on pitches] I was getting before," said Burnett, who walked three and threw three wild pitches. "I am getting too much of the plate."
Burnett's teammates didn't do much with journeyman right-hander Freddy Garcia, who had been punished in the three previous starts.
In seven innings, Garcia (11-5) allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits.
Beyond Sabathia, the Yankees' rotation is a mess. Andy Pettitte is on the disabled list and nobody knows when he will pitch again. Phil Hughes is coming off a bad outing and has an innings limit in place. Nova has made one big league start. Dustin Moseley has done well replacing Pettitte, but . . .
That's why the Yankees have had their fingers crossed for a long time about Burnett.
"It's important he pitches well for us," Girardi said of the right-hander, who is 0-2 with a 12.20 ERA in the last two starts, in which he has given up 20 hits and six walks. "We need him to pitch well."Follow @NYPostsports