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Notes: Crosby gets start in center field

Notes: Crosby gets start in center field

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NEW YORK -- With their backs against the wall and the season on the line, the Yankees decided that outfield defense was the most important thing on Sunday night for Game 4 against the Angels.

With a slow track in the outfield after steady rain over the past two days, manager Joe Torre decided to start Bubba Crosby in center field, moving Bernie Williams to the designated hitter spot.

"The ball is going to stop," Torre said. "It's all about getting to it more than anything else."

Crosby started Game 1 of the Division Series, going 0-for-4 in the Yankees' 4-2 win. Torre put Williams back in center field for Game 2, using Jason Giambi as the DH and Tino Martinez at first base.

Torre said he had not made out a lineup for Game 4 before he found out that Jarrod Washburn had been scratched as the Angels' starter. John Lackey, who won Game 2 for Los Angeles, replaced Washburn and will pitch on three days' rest.

The other possibility would have been to use Ruben Sierra -- who is 3-for-8 with a homer against Lackey -- as the DH and keep Williams in center field.

"Ruben has had some numbers against Lackey, but we had to weigh all of the information," Torre said. "We decided that the defensive part of it carried it."

For starters: The Yankees will have all hands on deck for Game 4 in the bullpen, including Chien-Ming Wang, who started Game 2 and threw 85 pitches.

Wang would be a potential long reliever for the Yankees, though Al Leiter and Aaron Small could also fill that role.

Whether or not Randy Johnson is available on Sunday night remains to be seen, but he would likely be able to pitch an inning or so should the series go to Game 5 on Monday in Anaheim.

"You certainly don't want to do anything, physically, that's going to hurt him," Torre said. "In all likelihood, if he's available, it will be for something significant. Not three or four innings, but more than one hitter."

There has been a lot of talk that Johnson was tipping his pitches in Game 3, when the Angels hit him for five runs in three-plus innings, but Torre doesn't want to hear anything about it.

"That wasn't the case the other day," the manager said. "Sandy Koufax tipped his pitches, too. That didn't keep him out of the Hall of Fame."

Travel plans: Should the Yankees emerge victorious from Game 4, they would depart for California well after midnight, arriving in Anaheim in the early hours on Monday morning.

"We don't care what time the ETA is," Torre said. "As long of a trip as it's going to be, it's still following a win. The last time was the worst, because it followed a loss in 2000."

Torre is referring to the 2000 Division Series, when the Yankees had a chance to close out the series with a Game 4 win at home, only to lose and be forced back to Oakland for Game 5. New York won Game 5, eventually winning the World Series.

"That was tough," said Tino Martinez, who played first base for the 2000 team. "Going back in that situation after a win is a lot better than going back after a loss and trying to win Game 5. We know if we win [Game 4], we'll have a lot of momentum on our side, even though we'll be on the road."

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

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