DETROIT – The Yankees were ready to bench Alex Rodriguez again when Game 4 of the AL championship series was postponed by rain.
Now, New York's top pitcher also might face a limited role, making a playoff comeback that already seemed far-fetched appear even more unlikely.
Game 4 was called off Wednesday night and rescheduled for Thursday, delaying Detroit's attempt to win its second AL pennant in seven years. The Tigers lead the best-of-seven series 3-0 and were ready to send Max Scherzer to the mound against Yankees ace CC Sabathia.
After the rainout, there's a chance Game 4 could be Sabathia's only start of the series even if New York is able to rally. Under the original schedule, he could have pitched a potential Game 7 on three days' rest.
There was no announcement on when Game 5 would be played if necessary. If Game 5 is simply moved to Friday's scheduled off day, then New York would have to win four games in four days and Sabathia would be unlikely to make more than one start.
"We take care of business (Thursday), then we can worry about the next day," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "Get in the win column, that's all that matters."
Cashman had plenty to talk about Wednesday even though not a single pitch was thrown. Manager Joe Girardi again left Rodriguez out of his starting lineup, and the Yankees also announced that injured shortstop Derek Jeter would have surgery on his broken left ankle.
The game — which New York needed to win to avoid elimination — almost felt like an afterthought. Perhaps it was fitting that it was called off because of rain in the Detroit area.
Scherzer and the Tigers will have another chance Thursday, when the teams try again to play Game 4.
"I would have played at 1 a.m. I don't care," Scherzer said. "Whenever they want to give me the ball, that's great."
The first pitch Wednesday night was slated for 8:07 p.m. But shortly before the scheduled start, the crowd was informed of a delay. A radar forecast for the Detroit area was eventually posted on the scoreboard video screen, as if to explain to fans why there was no baseball despite what was still pleasant weather at the ballpark.
"They kept saying it was going to come and it never came. So go figure," Scherzer said.
The postponement was announced after a delay of about 70 minutes. A misty rain finally began about 15 minutes after the postponement was announced and steady rain followed shortly thereafter.
Most the day's drama centered on Rodriguez, who was dropped from the starting lineup again. The Yankees also were planning to bench slumping center fielder Curtis Granderson if the game had been played.
Rodriguez, only 3 for 23 in this postseason, had already been left out of the starting lineup twice and pulled for a pinch hitter three times in the playoffs.
"We will go forward. Alex will go forward," Cashman said.
"That doesn't mean that he's done, that he's finished, that he is not capable. He is still a big threat, but for whatever reason right now we are adjusting to what we are seeing," he said.
Whether the Yankees keep him on the bench or put him in another postseason game, "it doesn't mean by doing so we're not going to have to deal with legitimate questions," Cashman said.
"That's all for another day," he said. "All we are concentrating on is the here and now and what is best for us today."
The 37-year-old slugger with 647 career home runs didn't like his seat in the dugout.
"I'm not happy about it. Obviously, you come to the ballpark feeling you can help the team win. When you see your name is not in the lineup, it's obviously disappointing," Rodriguez said Wednesday night. "You've got to accept being a cheerleader and also make sure that you're ready when you're number's called."
The firestorm may not end any time soon. He has $114 million and five years remaining on his contract — and a no-trade clause.
Cashman flatly denied that the team has had trade discussions concerning Rodriguez.
Jeter, meanwhile, is set to have surgery this weekend after breaking his ankle Saturday in the opening game of this series. The Yankees say the star shortstop could need four to five months to completely recover, meaning Jeter likely would be ready to return sometime between the start of spring training in mid-February and late in spring training in mid-March.
Cashman called that a conservative estimate and left open the possibility that Jeter could come back sooner. Jeter had scans Sunday, which confirmed the fracture, and he saw Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday.
"There's no new information," Cashman said. "Nothing seemed worse than what our team doctors saw."