Notes: Moose remains out West

Notes: Moose remains out West

NEW YORK -- In Mike Mussina's perfect world, the Yankees will celebrate a trip to the American League Championship Series without him.

That's because the right-hander, who won Game 1 and is slated to start a potential Game 5, remained in Southern California when the Yankees returned to New York late Wednesday night.

"We didn't decide that until after Game 2," said manager Joe Torre. "It made sense, because he would have had to leave [Saturday] during the day [in order to fly ahead for Game 5]."

Mussina allowed five hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 1, leading the Yankees to a 4-2 victory over the Angels in Anaheim. The Yankees dropped Game 2, 5-3, evening the series.

But unlike each of the past three seasons, when the Yanks also split the first two games of the Division Series, they now return home for Games 3 and 4.

"Coming home feels pretty good," Torre said, "especially when you lost your last game."

That said, Torre will tell his players to bring a bag to the stadium on Saturday, whether they're one game away from advancing or trying to force a Game 5.

Mussina won't be in the mix to pitch Game 4 if one of the next two games is rained out, though Torre said he would consider bringing the right-hander back East if they were rained out for two consecutive days.

If Mussina has his way, he'll simply meet the Yankees in Chicago on Monday to prepare for Game 1 of the ALCS.

"The last thing he said was, 'See you in Chicago,'" Torre said. "That's the way it appeared at the time, with [the White Sox] up, 2-0. But we know better than anybody that doesn't mean anything."

Apparently it did this year, as the White Sox closed out a three-game sweep of the Red Sox on Friday afternoon.

Catching a break: Jorge Posada was not behind the plate for Game 3 of the Division Series, the first time in 68 postseason games that he has not caught for the Yankees. The last time that happened? Game 4 of the 1999 World Series, when Joe Girardi got the start.

As has been the case since June, John Flaherty was in the lineup to catch Randy Johnson. The two have been working as a battery since mid-June, the time Johnson seemed to fine-tune his mechanics and turn his season around.

"Randy was inconsistent, so we tried different things just to stabilize," Torre said. "We explained it as we went along to the people involved, it seemed to work and nobody had a problem with it. Randy seems to be comfortable, and now that he's used to it, I'm sure he assumes that's the case."

During Torre's tenure, he has tried to stay away from having personal catchers for pitchers, though there have been a couple of times when a pitcher and catcher have clicked. Andy Pettitte and Jim Leyritz used to work together in the mid-to-late 90s, as did David Cone and Chris Turner in 2000.

"We've done it with different people," Torre said. "But with Randy being Randy, it gets more attention.

"It seems they sort of clicked," he added. "The fact that Randy has had some success, and that pitchers are a little different animal than everyday players, I'd just as soon have one less thing for him to adapt to."

Tino gets the nod: With Posada not getting the start behind the plate, Torre had three options for his designated hitter spot; Posada, Tino Martinez and Ruben Sierra.

The manager went with Martinez, who started at first base, relegating Jason Giambi to DH duties. Martinez is 3-for-9 with a home run in his career against Angels starter Paul Byrd, while Sierra is 3-for-6 with two homers.

"Ruben's numbers are good, but so are Tino's," Torre said. "When you have a choice of those two guys, only one of them helps your defense."

Torre contemplated using Posada as the DH, though that would have left him without a catcher on the bench in case of an injury to Flaherty. Then again, Torre had another reason to keep Posada on the bench.

"Any thought I had disappeared when I saw he was 1-for-13," Torre said, referring to Posada's history against Byrd.

Familiar face: Juan Rivera, who played for the Yankees from 2001-2003 before being traded to the Expos in the deal for Javier Vazquez in December 2003, has gotten off to a nice start in the ALDS, going 4-for-6 with a home run in the first two games of the series.

Rivera is no stranger to the postseason, having played in both the 2002 and '03 playoffs with the Yankees.

"He's got more experience," said Torre when asked if Rivera looked like a different player now. "He's a very unpredictable type of hitter; he can hit a ball low and away, then miss a ball low and away. He's got some power -- which we saw the other day -- and he doesn't have to pull the ball."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.