By HOWIE RUMBERG, Associated Press
NEW YORK -- Now that the Yankees have clinched the AL East, Russell Martin is not hiding his hatred for the Boston Red Sox.
The All-Star catcher, in his first year with the Yankees, is hoping New York helps play wild-card spolier this weekend when it hosts the fading Red Sox in a three-game series.
"Anything to get the Red Sox out would be awesome for me," Martin said Thursday night before facing Tampa Bay. "They are fun to play against just because they have a quality team, and they're gritty, and they play hard and stuff, but I'd love to see them lose."
Martin isn't worried about possibly facing Boston, which is 11-4 against the Yankees this season, in the AL championship series. His feelings are more basic.
"I hate the Red Sox," Martin said without hesitation.
The Yankees will send Freddy Garcia (11-8), A.J. Burnett (10-11) and Ivan Nova (16-4) to the mound against the Red Sox, in a 4-14 slide from Sept. 4 on. Entering Thursday, Boston's AL wild-card lead had shrunk from nine games over Tampa Bay to 2 1/2 over the Rays and Los Angeles Angels.
New York manager Joe Girardi would not get caught up in Martin's provocative remarks. Girardi is more concerned with balancing his team's pursuit of homefield advantage throughout the AL playoffs with resting his regulars.
"Our responsibility is to our club," he said. "That's the bottom line. I have to make sure our guys are healthy and rested and ready to go next Friday. ... Obviously our goal is to get home-field advantage, and the important thing to me about some of these lineups is that we take care of our guys and have them ready to play next Friday."
Girardi did say he will not give CC Sabathia another chance to win his 20th game. Instead, he may have the big lefty throw a simulated game Sunday to put him on track for a start in Game 1 of the division series next Friday. Girardi doesn't want to put Sabathia in a situation where he is on a short pitch count that could possibly tax the bullpen.
While he didn't discuss his 25-man playoff roster, Girardi gave a strong indication that Jorge Posada will be on it.
"I don't have 100 percent, but I expect him to be there," the manager said.
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