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October 16, 2009

Joe Girardi


THE MODERATOR: We'll take first question for Joe.

Q. Hey, Joe, heading into the ALCS as manager is uncharted territory for you. Are there pressures on the manager? Do these games seem more intense from your point of view and how does it help you through whether it's talking to the bench coach and that type of thing?
JOE GIRARDI: I think the way you prepare yourself helps you. I think the people around you help you. You obviously know, as I said yesterday, one loss in a playoff game is a lot different than one loss during the course of the season. So in that sense, each game has a lot more value. So there is in a sense more pressure. The way, for me, that I've always dealt with that type of pressure or big games is by preparation. And if you're prepared, you know what you want to do. You know that each game isn't going to go according to the way you draw it up. But if you're prepared, you know which decisions to make.

Q. Do you have a lineup?

Q. May I have it?
JOE GIRARDI: Sure. Jeet, Johnny, Tex, Al, Matsui, Posada, Cano, Swisher, Cabrera.

Q. Joe, we asked Jeter yesterday if it felt like five years since he's been in the ALCS, and he said yes. He and Pettitte and Posada and Rivera, what have they meant to this franchise as they kind of get back here after such a long absence?
JOE GIRARDI: What they've meant is they've meant championships. Outstanding play, MVP-type seasons, Cy Young-type seasons, character. They've meant so much to this organization over the last 13, 14, 15 years. And you look at what they've been able to accomplish together, it's been pretty incredible. It's been a great run. The fact that they haven't been there in five years, I'm sure they miss it a lot. And this is an opportunity to get back to the place you want to get to.

Q. Joe, you were talking about pressure before. How does the pressure differ for you now as a skipper as opposed to when you were a manager?
JOE GIRARDI: As a player?

Q. Yes.
JOE GIRARDI: As a player you only really had to worry about your pitcher and yourself in a sense. As a manager you have to worry about a lot of different things. And I think in both instances, once the game starts, it feels more normal. It's the waiting, the time that you spend at the ballpark, it seems to be a little bit longer. I've always felt as player when I played it was a different feeling than when you weren't playing. If you were sitting in the bullpen or wherever you were.
But the key for me is preparation. Because that's what helps me handle everything that comes my way.

Q. Just being around Teixeira every day this year, what's kind of stuck out to you about him aside from what he's done on the field?
JOE GIRARDI: Just the type of person he is. There's no fluff with Tex. To me he's very organized. He knows exactly what he wants to do every day. He's always prepared. He's a great family man. He's a great teammate in the clubhouse. He likes to laugh more than you might think from looking afar. He likes to have fun. But he's meant a lot to our club besides on the field. Off the field, I think he's been real important for our club.

Q. Joe, without getting into which team benefits and which doesn't, in your opinion, does the level of play get compromised in some respect by the kind of weather you're expecting tonight and tomorrow?
JOE GIRARDI: You really never know until you go through it. Cold is one thing to deal with, wet is another. Balls can take off on wet turf, which can change the complexion of a game.
I had a chance to watch the Phillies and the Rockies playing in those two games, and they didn't seem to have a problem scoring runs or doing the things that they need to do. But there's no doubt the conditions are going to be raw tonight. And you hope that a ball doesn't skid off the grass and take a bad hop that could cost you.

Q. As you know, Swisher's numbers against Lackey aren't that strong. I think if I recall he didn't play against Lackey last time you faced him. Is it because you're in the postseason now? Does that make a difference?
JOE GIRARDI: We watched his at-bats. Sometimes when you give a guy a day off, you look to give him a day off against a guy that maybe he struggled a little bit. But we watched his at-bats the last couple of years, and he's hit some balls really hard. He does see pitches on John Lackey, which is extremely important. And that's why he's in there.

Q. Joe, when you're facing John Lackey, what's the most important thing you want your guys to do in their approach?
JOE GIRARDI: You know, he's probably going to use a lot of breaking balls. So you want to try to make him get his breaking ball up. Depending on the feeling in his fingers tonight, that could change everything. He might approach you different. But he is not a guy that's afraid to throw a pitch at any time in the count. Whether it's 2-0 breaking ball, a 3-2 breaking ball. The thing that I think you have to do is you have to be patient and get your pitch and not chase out of the zone.

Q. Joe, I think you alluded to this already a little bit. It's been four days of talking and speculating about the weather and who's going to do what. How much are you looking forward to walking out of this room and just getting to the game?
JOE GIRARDI: A lot, actually. The days off can be enjoyable, but you look forward to playing. Just because that's what we're used to doing. We're not used to having all these days off. So it seems kind of strange. We took a travel day and then another day, and physically we got our guys ready the last two days. But I'm really looking forward to it.

Q. Even after a 103-win season, how much more of a validation is a manager who is successful in the playoffs in getting to the World Series and winning one? Is that a bigger stamp of achievement for a manager?
JOE GIRARDI: No, I think it's important for managers. Obviously, your players have a lot to do with that and the way they perform. I've said all along that we like the team that we have. We've played very well up until this point. And I think, you know, when managers or players are part of World Series championship teams, it seems to validate their career more.
Growing up in Chicago, you would always hear that Ron Santo and Ernie Banks weren't part of World Series teams. Those were players that I followed very closely. Ernie Banks, obviously, a Hall-of-Famer. People look for World Series to validate careers.

Q. Joe, you've talked about CC's presence in the clubhouse and how he's embraced some of the younger pitchers. What specifically has he done on the mound this year that has either surprised you or struck you as profound, maybe something you didn't realize you were getting when you signed him?
JOE GIRARDI: He moves better off the mound than I originally thought. I've seen him make some plays that I've kind of said "wow." This is a big man chasing a ball sometimes.
I've also been extremely impressed by his composure and his ability -- if something goes wrong that's not necessarily of his doing, the way he's able to correct it and not let it affect him pitch after pitch after pitch.

Q. Joe, you talked about how the weather can affect the game. Do you think that, one, do you think the season should be shortened? And two, do you think that the off-days added into the postseason, specifically this year, are unnecessary or unneeded?
JOE GIRARDI: It's interesting. Every year that I had a chance to play in the playoffs here, the weather was great. So I don't remember having a day like this. I mean, this is what baseball is. It's 162-game schedule. It's a grind. You know, if you shorten it by six games, the way it used to be, well then you fall into this is the World Series week, and the weather is not so good right now. And in the Division or in the League Championships, it wasn't great in Colorado. You know, I don't know what you do. You pray that Mother Nature blesses you this time of the year and sometimes it doesn't.

Q. Joe, this is the first time two catchers, two former catchers as managers will go head to head having both won World Series as players. It's a little historical. Could you talk about what you learned as a catcher that may have helped you be successful as a manager. Joe Torre didn't win a World Series, but what is it about catchers that allow them to be so effective as skippers?
JOE GIRARDI: I think there's a couple of things that go into a thought process of a catcher every game. The first thing is you have somewhat of an understanding of what it's like to be a pitcher. And you also have an understanding of what it's like to be a position player, because that's what you are. When I say that about pitchers, you just deal with them very closely. And you kind of get a sense more than I think other players of what they're going through at the time that they have the ball in their hand.
The other thing is, I think as a catcher, for me, I always manage the game backwards. What you had in your bullpen that day, how many runs you thought you needed, how many innings you thought you needed out of your starter to win that game, and that's what you do a lot as a manager. You're going to get your innings out of your start and then you have to manage your bullpen and set it up to be successful. So for me, I think it's kind of on-the-job training. But still, that on-the-job training prepares you for this. But this is still different.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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