NEW YORK (AP) -Eric Wedge has been asked several times about his decision to pitch Paul Byrd in Game 4 against the Yankees instead of ace C.C. Sabathia on three days' rest.
So the Cleveland Indians' manager explained his choice on Monday - again. He said the team never considered going back to Sabathia before a potential Game 5.
The Indians held a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series going into Monday night.
``We said coming in Paul Byrd was our fourth starter, and he is. And we knew if we started on Thursday we were going to need four starters, and that's the way it's played out,'' Wedge said. ``Paul won 15 games for us. He has playoff experience. We wouldn't be here without him. And we feel strong about him.''
Then, Wedge talked about protecting Sabathia, a top contender for the AL Cy Young Award who went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 209 strikeouts this season. The big left-hander won the playoff opener against New York in a taxing effort.
``I think common sense has to come into play at some point in time just in regard with C.C. I mean, he threw 114 pitches in five innings. Arguably worked as hard as he's worked all year. And he's pushing 250 innings for the year,'' Wedge said.
``And one thing we'll never do, I don't give a damn what the situation is, we're not going to put our players in harm's way. We're not going to put them in a position for something like that to happen. The only way we would have even considered it for some reason, he had a very short outing and didn't throw very many pitches the first game. Paul Byrd's our guy,'' he added.
Wedge said he probably wouldn't consider using Game 2 starter Fausto Carmona out of the bullpen Monday night, but the right-hander would be available as a reliever in Game 5 if necessary.
NEW RULES: Yankees manager Joe Torre said his guess was that rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain would be available for an inning in Game 4, even after a heavy workload Sunday night.
Chamberlain threw 38 pitches in Game 3, allowing one run and three hits in two innings. He appeared to tire in the eighth, and some questioned why Torre kept him in with New York leading Cleveland by five runs.
Perhaps the outing sapped Chamberlain, which could hinder him in Game 4 and cost the Yankees. Trying to stave off elimination for the second consecutive night, New York trailed 2-1 in the best-of-five series.
``We could have gotten a little luckier in the eighth inning when he had the first two outs with very few pitches,'' Torre said Monday. ``But the fact of the matter is my guess is he is available for an inning tonight. Aside from that, everybody else is on deck, too.''
The Yankees have been cautious with the 22-year-old Chamberlain, projected as a starting pitcher.
After the right-hander was called up from the minors in early August to help the bullpen, the Joba Rules were instituted. He was supposed to get a day off for every inning he pitched, he wasn't to be summoned in the middle of an inning, and he would not be warmed up more than once in a game.
The team relaxed those rules late in the season to prepare Chamberlain for an expanded role in the playoffs.
``The rules here in October - the rules here are to win,'' general manager Brian Cashman said.
COOKING CLASS: Colorado right-hander Aaron Cook is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list for the NL championship series against Arizona.
Depending on how he does Wednesday in an Instructional League game in Tucson, Ariz., Cook could be ready to pitch Game 4 at Coors Field on Oct. 15.
``He's been the guy that all through the first three-quarters of the year we leaned on big-time for innings and he went out there and gave us a chance to win every time out,'' said pitcher Josh Fogg, who might get bumped from the rotation if Cook is added to the NLCS roster.
Cook, who edged out Jeff Francis in a spirited competition for the opening-day start this season, was 8-7 with a 4.12 ERA when he was felled by an oblique injury Aug. 10.
``To lose a guy like that was tough for us,'' Fogg said. ``He was kind of our anchor. Jeff was the No. 1 guy down the stretch, but Cookie was the guy you always knew you were going to get seven, eight innings out of him.''
Cook said he's healthy and doesn't expect to be rusty, ``but there are a lot of other factors that go into me coming off the DL and being on the roster: The way guys have been pitching, what they want to do.''
He said he'd even be willing to work in relief.
``I'll do whatever I'm asked. I've pitched in relief before. They know I'm ready to do whatever,'' Cook said.
Cook, who threw 75 pitches without pain Friday in Tucson, where his sinker was sharp, said he'd fit right back into the rotation behind Francis and rookies Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales.
``I'll have my arm strength, and my side's not hurting. I've got complete confidence. I've played these guys plenty,'' said Cook, who was 1-0 with a 5.63 ERA in four starts against the Diamondbacks this season.
Fogg was much better against Arizona, going 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA in four starts, which certainly will factor into the decision.
BYRD CATCHING: Indians backup catcher Kelly Shoppach has been behind the plate for many of Paul Byrd's starts this season, and manager Eric Wedge stuck with that tandem in Game 4 of the playoffs.
``There's nothing more important than your starting pitcher. And they've been together all year,'' Wedge said. ``It's a relationship that, we put them together early on and they had some success. Like any other relationship, you stick with it if it works. And that's what we've done.''
Regular catcher Victor Martinez shifted to first base, taking Ryan Garko's bat out of the lineup. Garko went 4-for-11 (.364) with a home run and three RBIs in the first three games of the series against the New York Yankees. He also scored three times.
``Victor's a good first baseman. Very good first baseman. Very comfortable. Enjoys being out there,'' Wedge said. ``The flip side is that Garko's not in there. But he'll be available for us, if and when we need him.''
During the regular season, Garko batted .289 with 21 homers, 29 doubles and 61 RBIs. Shoppach, who was in the No. 9 spot, hit .261 with seven homers and 30 RBIs in 161 at-bats.
OCTOBER CHILL: Derek Jeter is usually at his best in October. Not this year - at least not yet.
The Yankees captain went 1-for-12 (.083) with four strikeouts in the team's first three playoff games against Cleveland. And while several other Yankees stars finally got going during an 8-4 victory in Game 3, Jeter struggled.
He finished 0-for-4 with a strikeout and grounded into two double plays. He also made a bad throw from shortstop that cost New York a run in the first inning, though the play was scored a hit.
Jeter is coming off a typically solid regular season. He batted .322 with 12 homers, 39 doubles, 73 RBIs, 102 runs and 15 stolen bases. But he was hampered down the stretch by a sore knee, and manager Joe Torre made it a point to rest him a couple of times - something Jeter doesn't like.
The 2000 World Series MVP, Jeter holds the career record for postseason hits (151) and runs scored (85).
TUNING IN: The number of viewers watching the first round of the playoffs was up 18 percent from last year.
TBS averaged 5.4 million viewers per game through Sunday, up from 4.5 million last year on Fox, ESPN and ESPN2. The number of households increased 12 percent.
The Yankees' 8-4 victory over Cleveland in Game 3 on Sunday night averaged 8.5 million viewers, the high thus far. The other three series ended in sweeps.
Ratings could take a hit in the next round following the first-round elimination of the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.
AROUND THE HORN: Yankees manager Joe Torre had a bandage on his left hand. He said he cut it recently with the strap on his watch, and trainer Gene Monahan didn't like the way it looked so he advised Torre to have it wrapped up. ... Torre said Game 4 starter Chien-Ming Wang would probably have gotten the ball on three days' rest even if the Yankees were leading 2-1 in the series. Wang was roughed up for eight runs and nine hits over 4 2-3 innings in the opener. ... With Wang on the mound, defensive whiz Doug Mientkiewicz was back at first base for the Yankees and Jason Giambi was on the bench.
AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton in Denver contributed to this report.

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