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October 10, 2009

Joe Girardi


THE MODERATOR: Joe Girardi is here. Are there any questions?

Q. You end up making the decision to go A.J. in Game 2 and A.P. in Game 3. Why did Andy fit perfectly into your game plan?
JOE GIRARDI: We talked about splitting up our left-handers, we talked about home and road splits. A.J. has thrown better at home, Andy's thrown better on the road. A.J. has faced Minnesota twice and he has had some success. There were a number of reasons that went into it.

Q. Joe, you have talked all year about playing with a sense of urgency no matter what game or series you are going into. Can you talk about the importance of keeping that mentality even though you are up 2-0 and, on the surface, it's obviously a much more important game for the Twins.
JOE GIRARDI: I think it's always important when you play that game that that's the only game you play because I don't think you -- anytime during the season, especially during the playoffs, you can mentally take a break.
It doesn't take much for a team to get a little crack, their foot in the door and to feel good.
The Minnesota Twins, the way they got in, they ran off a great stretch of 17 out of 21 games, they are a dangerous team, we know we have had many close games with them during the course of the season, so you don't really want to let them get their foot in the door.

Q. You mentioned all year how you noticed that Alex is comfortable, and you felt good about what he could give you. Do you remember any specific conversation you had with him, maybe early on or right after he came back, that gave you the peace of mind that he was going to be the player he is?
JOE GIRARDI: Just some of the conversations we had when he was gone, but more when he got back, just watching him go about his work and how relaxed he seemed just made me feel that he was going to have a great season for us.
And I have talked about it a few times, when I am in my office or on the road in the office, hearing Alex laugh, how loud he is, and it's one of my favorite parts of the day, hearing the guys all laugh in the lunchroom, and it just tells me the players are in a good frame of mine, they are relaxed, they are not pressing, and when players are extremely talented and not pressing, they can usually do a lot of great things.

Q. Joe, you mentioned not wanting to let them get their foot in the door here. Is this one of the more imposing places to play?
JOE GIRARDI: This is a tough place to play. It seems it's a tough place to play no matter what sport you are playing, football or baseball. The Twins's fans are great, it gets loud. It's a different type of park than what we are used to playing in.
You see funny things happen here sometimes with the fly balls because people lose them. It seems that they lose them more in the day than they do at night, but this is a great home field advantage, I think, for the Twins, the atmosphere here, similar to what we have when we go to our ballpark.

Q. Just following that up, the Yankees, over the course of the years, have had pretty good successes here, particularly going back into the postseason in '03 and '04. Is there any explanation for that, or is it just that you guys win practically everywhere?
JOE GIRARDI: I wasn't necessarily here in '03 and '04, I was here as player in the '90s and always thought it was a tough place to play. I think it really kind of got that reputation, that I remember, the '87 World Series, and then the '91 World Series, it seemed that this was a tough place in playoff time to win, but the Yankees have had some success, but past success just means that, okay, that's in the past, and this is a new year, and this is a new club we are facing, we have a new club and you have to go out and try to win every day.

Q. Joe, when Carl Pavano is right, what does he do that makes him effective?
JOE GIRARDI: Carl is the type of guy that's going to spot his fastball. I think his change-up is probably his Number 1 pitch, and he gets swings and misses on it, or he gets out in front or gets you to pop it up or roll it over.
I think the thing when you face Carl is you have to lay off the change-up because it looks like it's in the zone and it goes below the zone. He has got good depth, he is going to throw strikes.

Q. Joe, along those lines, you hear players sometimes talk about how if they are too emotional during a game it can get in the way with what they are doing, and I am wondering if, particularly with Carl Pavano, if there were because there were some strong feelings in your clubhouse about Pavano during his time with the Yankees?
JOE GIRARDI: I don't. Carl had injuries, you know, he had the arm problem, he had the back issue, and they were real injuries, and I think the frustration on the Yankees' side is they knew he was a good pitcher and they wanted him on the mound, that was the bottom line.
So I don't think that will play a factor. I think what probably plays the most important thing is that you are selective and you don't get overanxious.

Q. Joe, the extraordinary confidence and track record you have at home in the late innings this year, obviously on the road is different because you bat first, not last. Do you still feel the same kind of vibe on the bench when you get down late in the game on the road like you do at home?
JOE GIRARDI: I think our club does. We have said all along we feel if we keep it close with our bullpen that we have a chance to come back, and we have had a lot of walk-off wins at home, but we feel good about our ability to come back anywhere. The only difference is that you are going to have to pitcher in the bottom of the ninth, but we also feel good about our closing.

Q. Joe, sort of following up on Tyler's question, specifically last night's game and the way it was won, do you think there is a carryover with that and the effect will carry over into tomorrow and even beyond that?
JOE GIRARDI: I think it gives us confidence to come back, even in playoff games, but as far as a carryover effect, the Twins were probably count out a few times this year, and they made an incredible run to get to this spot, so we know how dangerous of a club they are and how important each team is, and as I have talked about, you don't really want to let them get their foot in the door, but we know tomorrow is going to be an extremely tough game.

Q. Joe, you talked about your confidence when you guys are behind late in games, that you can come back. How much is the fact that you have a good offense and how much of it is the fact that you have just one or two relievers that you can trust late in games?
JOE GIRARDI: I think it starts with your bullpen. When you get behind, you don't let other clubs put on a lot of tack-on runs. As far as our offense, we know that we have speed, if it's a one-run game, we know that we have power. If we need more than one run, so up and down our lineup we have power. So we feel good that we have that ability to come back because of the type of offence and how explosive our offence can be.

Q. Joe, people that are around the Yankees a long time, seems like a lot of them have similar memories, go-to memories about Andy Pettitte, and what they think of when you think of him? In your mind, what games do you think of with Andy?
JOE GIRARDI: The one-to-nothing game against John Smoltz in Game 5. I think that was the start of when Andy got the reputation of being able to perform at a very high level in big games, 2 to 2 in that series, and he had gotten hit pretty hard in Game 1 and was able to bounce back from that and have that stare that he always has in pitching big games, and big games don't seem to get Andy rattled. His focus seems to even get greater.

Q. Joe, last night Gardy was asked about his thoughts on Instant Replay outside of boundary calls. I know you're a big football fan. What are your thoughts on Instant Replay in baseball?
JOE GIRARDI: The thing about baseball is it's a real rhythm game, and I am sure football is, too, but I think if you were to start to Instant Replay all these plays, I think it would break the rhythm of the game, and our games all get to be four games long. If you start Instant Replaying everything, then you could go as far as a strike and it could just become too long.
I like the way they are doing it, just homerun calls, those are important plays, and there are other important plays, and you could look at the play the other night and say that was an important play, but I think there would be too many things that people would want Instant Replay and where would you stop?

Q. Joe, are you generally more wary of pitchers who stress finesse and change of speeds who are under the regular hitting speeds than necessarily the harder throwers?
JOE GIRARDI: No, I think our guys have the ability to hit all types of pitchers. Certain hitters have strength against certain pitchers. To me it's, when we are selective in hitting our pitches whether they are hard throwers or finesse pitchers is when we are successful.

Q. Joe, how do you think the ballpark has come through now that you have seen them work a little bit the first couple games and, also, I meant to ask you this yesterday, do you have any indication at all of what you think of Molina and Burnett going forward after what you saw yesterday?
JOE GIRARDI: I think our ballpark is throwing the ball pretty well, pressure-packed situations. Each guy seemed to throw the ball pretty well, so I feel good about our ballpark, and as far as the A.J. and Molina, we will revisit that every time that comes up, but right now we are concerned about Game 3 and Georgie is going to be out there, and Georgie played a role yesterday, as we talked about, so we will worry about that if that time comes.

Q. Following up on the ballpark, Joe, with the young guys the way they perform, obviously, can you characterize how you feel now compared to, say, in the spring? Was it a surprise that came along so quickly, was this more out of necessity than it was a Grand Plan?
JOE GIRARDI: Believe it or not, we felt good about our ballpark coming out of spring training because some of the years that the guys had had the year before, and some of those guys that had good years struggled, and we had to make some adjustments, and we have seen our young pitchers, whether it's been Aceves, who had a good September for us last year, Robertson, the progress that he has made, Coke, the year that he has had, Hughes, the wonderful year that he has had, it seems like each month they have got more confidence, and the next step is, obviously, in the playoffs, and those young kids have been pretty good and our confidence is still really high on them.

Q. Okay. Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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