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October 19, 2010

Joe Girardi


Q. You're playing a team with decidedly less history than you guys have, and have this whole chase for 28 thing going, does that put more pressure on you guys and is it difficult to play a team that's playing with house money?
JOE GIRARDI: No, I don't think so. The expectations have been here for years. It's not like it's just this year. The players that we have understand the expectation going into Spring Training.
And being in that experience one time before, as a player that had never been in the playoffs and the first time, you want it just as bad as everyone else. You want it just as bad as everyone else when you go into Spring Training. It's something that you dream about as a kid.
The guys in the opposing clubhouse understand what their goal is and what they want to do, and they feel that, too.

Q. Was going with Cervelli a difficult decision? Can you take us through the thought process?
JOE GIRARDI: Those two have been together, and it was not a difficult process. We talked about it, and we decided to go with Cervy. Cervy caught the simulated game the other day. Cervy has caught a lot of his ballgames and has played well for us and we decided to go with Cervy.

Q. Did you seek out Jorge to tell him that specifically?
JOE GIRARDI: I talked to him about it last night and I told him just be ready for anything tomorrow, and he said, okay.

Q. I'm sure you saw the Cubs announce their manager, Mike Quade, wondering --
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, congrats to Mike.

Q. Relief or disappointed --
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I wasn't talking about it anyway, so I had not really been asked since our time in Chicago. I had the one day I said I would talk about it.
As I've said all along, I'm focused on what we are trying to do here. I'm not worried about next year. I'm not worried about the year after. I'm worried about right now.

Q. In understanding the history of Burnett, would the decision have been any more difficult if Posada was swinging well right now?
JOE GIRARDI: No, I think I still would have went the same way. Being a catcher, for years, and understanding sometimes what it was like to be the backup catcher where you caught the same guy all the time; I believe in that catcher/pitcher relationship that people are able to form.
It really had nothing to do with offense. It's just those two have been together most of the time.

Q. About that relationship, what do those guys have that they do well together?
JOE GIRARDI: One of the things that we have here is we have a 39-year-old catcher that doesn't play seven, eight, nine, ten days in a row. We don't have that. Jorge used to do that and Jorge was extremely durable. Jorge has caught a lot of games and done it very well.
So my thought process was, if you have a guy that's not going to catch ten days in a row, it's easier if the backup catcher catches the same guy every time, because all of a sudden you're not throwing him with a guy that hasn't seen him for four weeks, a pitcher and he's not exactly sure what he's doing in a certain situation or what's been working.
So I believe in continuity when it comes to pitchers and catchers. And that's why I chose to do it this way.
Now, if Jorge was a guy that caught, ten, twelve, fourteen days in a row, it would have been different. But that's not what we have here anymore.

Q. How much are you looking forward to seeing CC pitch on regular rest tomorrow night? How much do you think he's been affected by the long layoff with the last two starts?
JOE GIRARDI: I'm looking forward to it. He's had some distance in between his starts, and you know, there was nothing that we could really do about that in a sense, because we were fighting to win our division, we won our first round quickly. So we had some layoff.
You try to draw it up as best as you can, but sometimes there's just things that you can't avoid. So I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Granted, Cliff Lee threw a gem last night, but is there any way to jump-start your offense or get the offense just going a little bit?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, Cliff Lee is as good as it gets last night. He just didn't make any mistakes. And we talked about being ready to hit first pitch if he makes a mistake, jump on it; he didn't make them.
As far as jump-starting the offense, when you go through a whole baseball season, you're going to go through some days where you don't score some runs and all of a sudden, you have a big output and you say, what happened.
We have professional hitters that know how to hit, and I believe in this offense. You know, it would be nice to score early. But the bottom line is, you score enough to win, and it doesn't matter when it happens.

Q. What kind of impact do you think a manager has when you're down in a series or there's turmoil in the team and what do you try to do?
JOE GIRARDI: I wouldn't say there's turmoil with our club. I think the thing that you have to do as a manager during the course of the season is you have to stay even-keeled.
I believe in this club, and I've said all along I believe in this club. We are in a series where we are down 2-1, and people talk about -- you would think we were down a lot further. When you lose two games in New York in a row, it becomes a big deal. But this is a very good team. We won 95 games and our guys know that and we know that.
And Texas is playing great. There's no doubt about it. But we are a good team, too. So I believe in those guys, and I'll stay even.

Q. Understanding that it's not an elimination game, but the peril you would be in if you did lose today, how close to an elimination game will you manage?
JOE GIRARDI: The thing is, we only have two days in a row and then we have a day off. So you could manage it a little bit different, but this is an extremely important game. You have to manage it to win and you have to manage it hard I think.

Q. The same confidence that comes into this team knowing it can come back to win games 48 out of 95 this year, and also the playoffs, even if a team is down 3-1, is the comfort level still there to come back and win the series?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah. As I've said, this is a good team. And this team has lost a couple games in a row and we have responded very well.
The comfort level is there. The guys in that room believe in each other. We believe, the coaches believe in the guys in that room; the front office. We have seen what they are capable of doing.
Yeah, you don't want to be down 3-1, but believe me, our guys are not going to start packing their bags in the sense that they are going home. They are going to pack the bags as if they are going to Texas.
So, yeah, this is an important game. And we are going to do everything we can to win this game. But I'm in that clubhouse every day, and I see how guys walk in, and they believe they are going to win every day.

Q. If I can ask you something a little bit different, you look at the four teams left in the playoffs, all of them made some key moves in the middle of the season, late July, you guys with Berkman and Wood, some were big names like Lee, other ones, smaller pieces. But No. 1, how much of a boost does that provide for a team that's already winning and number two, what challenges does that give a manager to incorporate guys like that in the middle of a season?
JOE GIRARDI: It can give you a big boost. We thought it gave our bullpen a big boost, we did. And Berky has been big in the playoffs for us. He swung the bat really well.
I think the challenges for a manager are getting to know the player and trying to put him in situations where he will be successful, because you have probably had this guy before. In Kerry Wood's case, he had been hurt, and he had not been pitching in 20 days. So the biggest challenge for a manager is getting to know that player as quickly as possible.

Q. What impresses you the most about Hamilton's swing?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think when you look at the combination of Josh Hamilton, he's not -- sometimes you have average hitters and sometimes you have power hitters. He has a lot of both. And he's able to square up the ball and drive it, anywhere in the ballpark. He's an extremely tough out. We have seen him be patient. We haven't seen him chase a lot of pitches in this series off of us.
And here is a guy that hit .359, and as we all witnessed in the home run contest a couple of years ago the power that he has; it's a very dangerous combination.

Q. Obviously you're on rotation, and you didn't waver, who did you talk to, whether it was A.J., Dave to help you make that decision and even though you are down 2-0 why didn't you waver and start CC?
JOE GIRARDI: We talked about this going in. We talked about this as an organization and coaching staff, how we were going to handle this.
And we talked about, you know, last year in the ALCS, we had that extra day off. So it was one guy we were asking to go on short rest. And this year, we had concerns about it, because we had a young man whose innings are obviously higher than he's been, has never pitched on three days, and we had Andy Pettitte who was coming off a leg injury and had some low back problems. So we just didn't feel that we could do it.
So we had planned on going with four starters. The first round we were going to go with three, because there was only one turn that would have been on three days' rest. But with everyone being expected to do it, we were not comfortable doing it.

Q. When we talk to Jorge through the years, obviously we can tell that he's a much happier guy when he's catching, and that came out last year in the post-season pretty clearly with the A.J. situation. When you say something like, that's not what we have around here anymore, a guy who catches ten, twelve, fourteen days in a row, do you sense that he's come to accept that any better or do you still deal with navigating around him to make this work?
JOE GIRARDI: Jorge wants to play every day. That's the bottom line. And when you've been an everyday player, your heart sometimes tells you one thing and your mind tells you another.
And I was never happy sitting, and I was an everyday player for a while, and then I was a platoon guy for a while, and I wanted to play every day. It's not always the easiest thing to accept. But Jorge is a team player and Jorge will be ready for us. And as I talked to Jorge about it during the whole course of the year, the bottom line is keeping you healthy and getting you to the month of October so you could be a big factor for us.
And there were days he wanted to catch and I didn't catch him, but I would remind him, that's the bottom line. Jorge has caught every game in the post-season for us so far, and after today, he'll probably start pretty much every game again.
So the plan of getting him here, has worked and we had some injuries we had to deal with, a couple of different times. It's not all easy getting older in this game, because you do miss playing. I know it was hard for me when I wasn't playing every day and felt that I could. But Jorge was really our No. 1 catcher. He just didn't catch 140 games like he used to.

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