NEW YORK – Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer planned to sit out Wednesday night against the New York Yankees to give his knees an extra day of rest. Then a chilly rain started falling in the Bronx, and everyone wound up getting the night off.
The game was called after a delay of about 45 minutes, without a pitch being thrown.
Francisco Liriano will start as scheduled, with Mauer behind the plate, when the Twins and Yankees wrap up a four-game series Thursday afternoon. But manager Ron Gardenhire wouldn't say whether Mauer or backup catcher Drew Butera will start when Carl Pavano pitches Friday against the Oakland Athletics in the Twins' home opener.
"One of those two guys on the roster," Gardenhire said with a smile.
Pavano was scheduled to start Wednesday night, but he said he's fine getting pushed back a couple days. He also said he doesn't care whether Mauer or Butera is catching him, even though Butera became his batterymate last season, working 15 of his 32 starts.
Gardenhire is hoping to rest Mauer on days when Pavano pitches this season.
"Last year, it so happened I had great success with Drew," Pavano said. "I've also had a lot of success with Joe, so we'll see where it falls this year."
The Yankees will also keep A.J. Burnett on schedule to pitch Thursday. Freddy Garcia's first start with his new team will be pushed back to next week.
No makeup date was announced for the rainout. This is the only time the Twins visit the Yankees this season, and playing a doubleheader Thursday wasn't an option because of the day game Friday. It's possible the game won't be made up until September.
The extra day off comes at a good time for both teams.
Along with resting Mauer, the Twins planned to rest Jim Thome, while Yankees manager Joe Girardi put together a lineup that had shortstop Derek Jeter and catcher Russell Martin on the bench. He wanted to rest them during a stretch of nine straight days with games.
Setup man Rafael Soriano also will get another day of rest after throwing 19 pitches on Monday night and 32 more in the Yankees' meltdown Tuesday night, when he allowed a hit and three walks while only retiring two batters during a 5-4 loss in 10 innings.
Soriano skipped out on the media after the game, and he apologized Wednesday.
"I got mad because I think that's a game CC (Sabathia) is supposed to win," Soriano said. "It didn't happen and that's why I got mad. I don't feel comfortable to talk."
There was no such angst in the Twins' clubhouse.
Left-handed reliever Jose Mijares managed to steal a Notre Dame football helmet from the office of the visiting team clubhouse manager. He stuck it on his head and ran through the hallways — and listed generously at 6 feet and conservatively at 230 pounds, he looked like quite the pudgy offensive linemen.
In fact, most of the Twins were still in a chipper mood after their come-from-behind win to even the series Tuesday night. After all, they've struggled mightily against the Yankees, losing 15 of the last 18 games and getting swept in the playoffs the last two seasons.
Gardenhire even tossed out a couple of one-liners when the game was called because of rain.
First, he chastised reporters who showed up wanting to talk to him — "Are you serious?" he asked. "Nothing happened! It's raining!" Then he played coy about his catching situation for Friday, before pointing to the radar on his computer when someone asked whether he thought there might be a window in the bad weather during which they could have tried to play.
"I'm not a weather forecaster," he said, "but that's green all the way to Detroit. The only window is if someone left a window open in their house somewhere."
NOTES: Gardenhire said RHP Kevin Slowey still has a sore right biceps muscle. He won't be available for a couple days. ... Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira announced a $1 million donation to Harlem RBI program for kids prior to the game. ... Tony Oliva will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Twins at Friday's home opener. Harmon Killebrew hoped to throw it but said in a statement Wednesday he will remain in Arizona and continue treatment for esophageal cancer.