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October 21, 2009

Joe Girardi


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Joe Girardi.

Q. When you played for these guys one of the hallmarks was your ability whenever you had an opportunity to close out a series, you always seemed to do it right. Do you find that especially beneficial, and if so, why?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think it's important to try to close series out when you can, because, you know, if you're able to do it, it allows you to set up your pitching. With not going five games with Minnesota, we were able to start CC in Game 1 in this series, and then Game 4. It gives your guys a little extra rest.
The one thing that you don't want to do is you don't want to give a very good team like the Angels momentum. So you do whatever you can to win the game tomorrow.

Q. On teams that you've been on, what does A-Rod -- where does A-Rod's performance so far rank for guys that you've been teammates with?
JOE GIRARDI: It's been as good as I can remember. What he's been able to do so far in this postseason has been really pretty incredible. You know, it's just not the home runs, it's just not the RBIs. You look at the base running last night, him scoring on that play.
The infield's in, he gets a great jump. We give our players the ability to read plays. He's a great base runner. His defense has been exceptional. I think his leadership has been exceptional.
It's more than just the numbers sometimes what Alex does. He's been as good as anyone I can remember.

Q. Do you have a lineup for tomorrow?
JOE GIRARDI: No, not yet. We'll talk about it. A lot of times you like to sleep on things and look at things. We'll talk about it as a coaching staff. But I don't.

Q. What are your thought process if you catch Molina, would you think about Posada as DH?
JOE GIRARDI: That is something that we'll talk about, you know. The one thing that we've talked about in that situation is Matsui's -- he's DH'd a lot more than Jorge has. If you DH Jorge in, you put him in the game, do you lose your catcher? So there are some things that we have to look at. We'll talk about it probably tonight.

Q. With A.J., a lot of his effectiveness comes from all the movement he has on the ball. How do you keep him in the zone and prevent him from all that wildness while still maintaining his effectiveness?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, that's mechanical. When his mechanics are right, he's going to be in the zone to make quality pitches. I mean, that's just repetition, repetition, repetition is all it is, and muscle memory.
You know, they work very hard on the side. They do their flat ground work. They just work hard at it.

Q. As far as A.J., have you been impressed with the way he's been able to keep his emotions in check? He was so excited going into these playoffs. Seems to be pretty steady out there?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, I have been. I thought he did a pretty good job of keeping his emotions in check during the course of the season.
The one thing about playing in New York is it prepares you for a lot because of the magnitude of so many of the games that we play and the expectations. You get a chance to go through it all year, and it's not like the awareness just gets stepped up at playoff time. When you play in New York it's up all the time, and I think it prepares players.

Q. There are a lot of sayings about lucky to be a Yankee or grateful of to be a Yankee and so on. As a manager, when you look around at the talent that you have, how do you feel about it as a manager?
JOE GIRARDI: I feel that I'm blessed. I think that you know, I can look at a lot more than just being the manager of the Yankees. I have a wonderful wife, and three wonderful kids that have been there the whole way for me. I had a wonderful childhood. I had a wonderful baseball career.
So I've been extremely blessed in my life. And being the Yankee manager, that's how I feel.

Q. In terms of the talent that you have?
JOE GIRARDI: Oh, I think you're fortunate that you have an ownership group in the Steinbrenner family that puts together a club like this every year. They do whatever they can. They take what they earn from the club and put it in the payroll.
This has been a family that's been truly committed to winning year after year after year. You know that you're lucky to manage for a club like that.

Q. Are you a little surprised that the Angels speed has been more of a factor in this game so far and why do you think that is the case?
JOE GIRARDI: I think we've done a pretty decent job of limiting base runners so far. I also think that if you look at our left-handers, their ability to sidestep. A.J.'s fairly quick to home plate. We've gotten leads on him. I think there are a number of things.
But we're always cognizant of their ability to run the base, steal, first to third. I looked at the play yesterday where Melky charged extremely hard and Napoli stayed at second. We've talked to our players about how to handle situations and we'll continue to discuss it.

Q. Is Derek fighting a bug? Is there anything else going around?
JOE GIRARDI: He has been. It kind of started -- what is today? Wednesday? Yeah. I noticed it on Monday. And he was pretty sick. He was still pretty sick yesterday. I'm hoping that he feels better, but it didn't seem to affect him Monday his first at-bat. That's just the type of player that Derek is. He's tough.

Q. Have you noticed anyone?
JOE GIRARDI: No, I haven't noticed anyone else get it yet. So hopefully no one else gets it. Fortunately he hasn't had the fever to go along with it like he had during the Mets series.

Q. You guys got Burnett and there was so much talk about his injury history and concerns about whether he'd be able to stay healthy and make the contract worthwhile. You know, what do you think it means to him and to you guys that he's stayed on the entire year and has a chance to pitch you guys into the World Series?
JOE GIRARDI: I think it's extremely important that we've been able to keep him healthy. He's been pretty healthy the last few years. And we saw firsthand when he was with Toronto a few too many times.
But it's important for our organization. It's important for him. You know, a chance to pitch in the playoffs and be a big contributor, and this is one of the reasons why we went and got him. We felt that he could do this. He had that type of stuff.

Q. You know this more than we do, but do you have to remind them tomorrow night that these nine innings are the most important, not to look past this thing?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, we talk about it. One game, win one game. And we talked about it yesterday. Win this game today, and that's your focus. You don't look ahead. You look at just trying to win a game on Thursday, and you go from there.

Q. Because, you know, you have a number of players that live through what happened in 2004, is it easier to get that message across to them? You have a lot of players that can say firsthand, hey, we can't let this opportunity slip away?
JOE GIRARDI: I think our guys understand that. There's a lot of new faces in there, too. There's some young players that probably weren't even playing pro ball when that happened. But I think our guys understand how good the Angels are, and how important it is to go out and play great baseball tomorrow night and see where you're at.
There's a lot of different faces. You look at our rotation. CC wasn't here. A.J. wasn't here. You look at the bullpen, and I believe Mo was the only guy that was here.
It's a different scenario, but we understand who the Angels are.

Q. From your playing career, what is the top World Series moment that you were involved in and why?
JOE GIRARDI: I would have to say '96, the celebration on the mound. Watching the ball go up to Charlie Hayes and missing the first one by about a half a foot and watching it go up again. Just the joy of the celebration. The idea that you went to work in early February and all the hard work had paid off, and all your dreams of playing in a World Series and being a winner as a kid. You got the chance to live that dream. That's not a dream that most people get to live. You understand that.
I think of all the kids that have played little league. All the people that played in the big leagues. Being a Cub fan, understanding Ernie Banks, and Billy Williams, and Ron Santo never got to experience that, and you realize how fortunate you are.

Q. Down stairs they're talking about Alex. Johnny Damon said something to the effect that Alex seems to be trusting his teammates more. They know the burden's not all on him. You were around him in '05 and in '07, could you sense that was something that may have been holding him back in years past? He felt there was a bigger burden on him personally?
JOE GIRARDI: You know, I never really felt that in '05 and '07. And maybe, you know, '05 as a coach it was one round, and you didn't necessarily feel it.
The interesting thing about '05, and '07, and '06, there were a lot of other guys that seemed to struggle. The focus was always on Alex, and I think that's because of who he is and what his reputation brings and what the expectations are of Alex Rodriguez, which probably sometimes are really unfair.
But I just noticed this year he came back and he was ready to go. Alex rushed back. He was back a week early. The impact that he made and the feeling in our clubhouse when he got there changed. We missed him. And that had to make him feel good.
So I think that maybe he does feel different, but I didn't really notice it.

Q. Johnny was just asked down stairs about the difference between last year's team and this club missing the playoffs and where you're at now. And he went out and got the best free agents on the market. You mentioned the Steinbrenners before about spending money and they always have the best players. Why is it this year's crop that came in has had such a positive effect?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, one of the things that we remain healthy as a club, which has had a huge impact. But the type of people that they are, I think. They adjusted quickly to New York, and sometimes that doesn't happen. And sometimes it doesn't happen at all for a player. But you look at really the three guys. And I consider it four because Swish was a trade, but he's played an important role on our club. Each guy seemed to be a really, really good fit and have played to their capabilities and that has been the difference.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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