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December 4, 2012

Joe Girardi


Q.テつ Joe, Cash was telling us yesterday that Alex came to you in the dugout after you pinch‑hit him for game three.テつ Can you take us through that conversation and how it developed from there.
JOE GIRARDI:テつ When I told him that I was going to pinch‑hit for him, that was in game three, he had told me that him and Kevin were talking, and basically he just felt his hips weren't firing right.テつ It wasn't pain, but he just felt there was not the explosiveness.
We sent him out for an MRI, I believe it was the next day, but it was on his right hip, and that came back fine.テつ So I kept playing him.テつ Little did we know it was his left hip, we found out much later, and now we're at the point where he needs surgery, and we're going to be without him for a substantial period of time.

Q.テつ How big of a loss is that?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ Well, it's big.テつ When you go into an off‑season, you feel you have to address certain areas, and all of a sudden you get a surprise n a sense.テつ It's a pretty big hole to fill.テつ It may not necessarily be with one person.テつ We're not sure exactly how we're going to do it.テつ We'll let things play out here.テつ It's not what we were expecting.

Q.テつ When you listen to him down the stretch and he said he was not getting good bats against right handers.テつ Were you convinced he was healthy?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I was because he told me he felt good.テつ He wasn't necessarily in pain.テつ He had to kind of work himself back in shape because of the injury before, the broken hand, but it just‑‑ you know, he wasn't the same guy that he was before he got hurt.
We don't know exactly when it happened, if it was just the wear and tear over time.テつ But he did look different than he did before he got hurt.

Q.テつ Was it a little alarming to you, when he told you what he told you?テつ I mean, you were just going to tell him?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ Yeah, I was somewhat worried because he had been through it on his right hip.テつ You would think he would have known what the feeling was like when it wasn't firing the way he thought.テつ I guess he assumed it was his right hip that was the problem because that was the one he had the problem with before.
So that's why we sent him out for the MRI the next day.

Q.テつ Joe, did that have any impact in terms of not playing him for those games?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ No, no.

Q.テつ You think the injury how defuses any tension in the relationship that might have developed over the benching?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I'm not sure.テつ It probably answers a lot of questions, maybe‑‑ answers a lot of questions.テつ He wasn't the Alex we saw before the injury, and now we have a reason possibly why.
Alex could have bowed out and said, I'm not going to play, or this is what's‑‑ you know, but he kept playing.テつ He kept trying to play and kept trying to be productive for us.テつ Obviously, he wasn't even sure what was going on.テつ But he knew that his hips weren't working the way he was accustomed to them working.

Q.テつ He played a third of the time this year.テつ When he comes back, your initial thought, if he comes back June, July, he'd probably have to DH a lot?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ He'll have to DH some.テつ That's one way of getting him back in the lineup and working him back into playing shape.テつ I hope I get to make that decision in June.テつ That would be really nice.

Q.テつ With both his injury and Derek's injury, do you worry at all about a lack of range on the left side, just not getting to a lot of balls?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ As long as they come back healthy, I think it's something that we'll be okay.テつ When you have these type of injuries, you worry about setbacks.テつ You worry about how a guy's going to come back.テつ You do worry about it somewhat.
But I think Derek's progressing well.テつ We see him in a walking boot, and he's starting to be able to do some things.テつ Alex, we're not going to know until we get a little further down the road.

Q.テつ Joe, as much optimism as you have for what Derek can do coming back, Alex, Mariano, these guys are all coming off major injuries.

Q.テつ Is there a part of you that says what if?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I think there's always a part of you that's going to worry until you see him back out there.テつ I just think that's normal to do.テつ And then once you see them out there and they pass the test, then you kind of‑‑ those worries subside a little bit.テつ I think, until you see him out there playing on a regular basis, you're going to worry about it a little bit.

Q.テつ Joe, in regards to third base, do you feel you have enough within the organization that you can handle it, or do you feel just body‑wise, you need to get people in?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I think it's something that we're addressing during these Winter Meetings, discussions that we're having, and we'll look to see what's out there.テつ I can tell you, by opening day, we'll have something.テつ We'll have a resolution to it.テつ I don't know it's necessarily going to happen in the next two or three days at the Winter Meetings, but by Spring Training we'll have a resolution to it.

Q.テつ Do you have in your mind any internal options you think might work?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ We really don't have anyone that has a lot of experience in that position.テつ David Adams played some third base last year for us in AAA, as he moved up, and I think he played some in fall ball.テつ But we don't really have a lot of internal people.

Q.テつ Joe, is it unsettling to be in December and not having a right fielder, not having a third baseman, not having a catcher?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ Not really.テつ I think I've gotten used to seeing moves made fairly late.テつ And I know from the internal discussions that we had, that we're going to have people in place by the time Spring Training is here.テつ Of course, everyone wants to know right now, what are the Yankees going to be, and who are they going to be in 2013?テつ But I don't get too worried about it.
If it was February 4th, February 5th, I'd be a little bit more worried if those people weren't in place.

Q.テつ If your catching situation is the way that it is now‑‑ and Brian's indicated that it could be‑‑ how would you look at it in terms of the three guys you have, Cervelli, Stewart, and Romine going to Spring Training?テつ Is it open competition?テつ Does somebody have an advantage?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I think it's an open competition.テつ Chris Stewart, obviously, he played for us all last year, and we like the job that he did for us.テつ Cervy has more experience than row mar, and row mar didn't get a chance to play a lot last year, and Cervy did.テつ It's still going to be an open competition.テつ We'll wait to see.
If someone opens their eyes in Spring Training.テつ I think these guys can get the job done.

Q.テつ When you have a number one catcher and a number two catcher.テつ The number one catcher catches 100‑plus games and the number two not so much.テつ Can you find that split with these guys, or is it a little more even maybe than if you don't go out and get somebody else?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I think it could be more even, but if one of them steps up and is playing extremely well, I'm not afraid to run them out there every day if they're doing the job.

Q.テつ Joe, you were vocal about wanting Russell back.テつ How big of a loss is that to you guys?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ It's not easy to replace an everyday catcher.テつ Russell was big for us in the last couple of months last year, and I was very proud of him.テつ He never took his at bats behind home plate.テつ He just kept going at it and going at it.
But it's the life that we live.テつ Sometimes changes happen, and you have to adjust to the changes, and you can't say what if or, gosh, I wish I really had this guy.テつ You've got to move on.

Q.テつ Both you and Brian talked about how much you wanted him back and liked him.テつ The contract you signed with Pittsburgh wasn't exorbitant.テつ Did you wonder why, ask why?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I understand that things happen for a reason.テつ I think sometimes people assume that the New York Yankees are the New York Yankees and there's no budget constraints and there aren't things that we want to stick to, but there are.テつ So I think that's part of the reason why he wasn't re‑signed.

Q.テつ Joe, do you think these next couple of years are going to be tougher for you guys as an organization because of this 189 mandate you've imposed on yourself in getting there?テつ In the past years, you may not have spent 250, but if you wanted a little extra million, Brian could go to ownership and say we want a little extra money, and usually ownership gave it to them.
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I don't think we'll get a true flavor until next year.テつ When I say next year, I mean 2014, and maybe it's July 28th, and you're talking about adding a guy, and it puts you over the cap.テつ I don't think we'll really get a true idea of what it's like until then.

Q.テつ Given that, Joe, is it fair to say the Dodgers are now the team, if they don't win the World Series, it's a failure for them?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ World Series is hard to win.テつ You can have all the pieces in place, and you can go to Spring Training thinking you have the team to win, and a lot of times it doesn't happen.テつ Our game is unpredictable.テつ You see wild cards win the series.テつ They get really hot the last month of the season, and they end up running the table.テつ So it's hard to predict.
There are going to be favorites.テつ We understand that.テつ But you have to play the game.テつ 161 games last year, we hadn't determined who won our division, and that's not something that any of us would have predicted, but that's the kind of game we live.

Q.テつ Joe, as uncemented as the lineup is now, how do you feel about your rotation now that you have Andy and Kuroda back?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I feel good about our rotation.テつ I think there's some depth there with Phelpsy as well.テつ Obviously our hope os we get Pineda back some time in the summer which gives us more depth.テつ The key is for these guys to stay healthy.
I saw CC the other day.テつ His rehab is coming along great.テつ I feel good about the guys we have.

Q.テつ You feel like going in your top four is set with those three guys, Hughes, and maybe competition for the No.5 spot?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I think so.テつ There are no guarantees.テつ You have to show up in Spring Training.テつ You can't show up and not perform and be horrible and expect to be in the rotation.テつ With the way they pitched last year, it's safe to say they should be our four starters.

Q.テつ In terms of current guys you have, Phelps and Nova in the fifth spot, is there anyone else you see in the organization currently that would be considered?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ As of right now, I don't think so.テつ I think those guys would be the two favorites to be one of the fifth starters, to be the fifth starter.テつ A lot could change, though, from here till February 10th, and then April 1st.

Q.テつ Joe, going back to the lineup for a minute, if these open positions‑‑ right field, catcher, third base, and so on‑‑ don't resolve with, say, the same offensive potency that you had in previous years, do you change your managerial style?テつ Do you change your tactics?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ Depends what type of players I have.テつ Your managerial style is dependent upon your players to a certain extent.テつ I've often talked about that you're not going to hit and run with guys that swing and miss, and you're not going to steal with guys that are slow.テつ You're just not going to do that.
Depending on what type of players we have, it could change some.

Q.テつ Joe, was it difficult, when you were going through all the questions through Alex and the lineup and sitting him and stuff, when you were addressing the media, not to talk about Alex's injury?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ We felt he was healthy, though.テつ I mean, that was the thing because he had the MRI.テつ That was not an easy time for any of us to go through.テつ I was asked questions every day, in September about was I going to move him in the lineup?テつ I had a lot of questions.テつ But we didn't find out until much later that he had an issue, and that issue is probably a big reason why he wasn't the same Alex.

Q.テつ But he did mention that his hips weren't‑‑
JOE GIRARDI:テつ That his hips weren't firing.テつ He did mention‑‑ he wasn't really in pain.テつ They just weren't working right.

Q.テつ Joe, do you think whatever you do to solve third base short term is also something that you have to be comfortable might have to be your 162‑game third baseman considering the other guy is going to be 38 and coming back from a second serious hip surgery?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I think so.テつ I do.テつ I think you have to assume those guys can play out the whole year depending on when Alex gets back.テつ Our hope is it's going to be four to six months.テつ You can't predict what's going to happen, and you can't predict how he's going to come back.
The one thing I know about Alex is his work ethic is tremendous, and he's going to work hard to get back to a level that he can play at a very high level, but you don't know exactly how the rehab is going to go.テつ Is he going to need some DH days?テつ If that's the case, then you're going to have to have someone that can play third base.

Q.テつ With the injuries that you guys have had now and with the‑‑ you mentioned before trying to get below that 189, payroll is a concern now.テつ You've been with the Yankees for a long time.テつ Do you feel it's kind of entering a transitional phase a little bit, with a lot of these one‑year contracts and trying to get under that payroll?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ Maybe it's a little bit different.テつ It's hard for me to remember what it was like in 1996 through '99 when I was here.テつ There were some guys that came in here on one‑year deals that played very well for us.テつ And there were some guys that came on two‑year deals that played very well.
There are some things that might seem a little bit different.テつ We're still going to have a high payroll.テつ That's the bottom line.テつ We're still going to have a lot of quality players out there.

Q.テつ Joe, with the idea that whoever starts the season at third base, you have to be comfortable with them playing the whole season.テつ Does that make Chavez a tricky guy because I know he's a free agent now, but if he were to come back, you talked about it.テつ He has trouble playing every day.テつ You need to really watch him.テつ If you need somebody who's going to be your full‑time third baseman for the whole year, does that maybe take him out of the mix a little bit?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ We talked about that, if it takes two guys to fill that spot, it takes two guys.テつ That's the bottom line.テつ The lineup might have to be creative every day in a different sense because those two guys might have to be changing roles.
But I don't think it necessarily takes anyone out of the mix.テつ It just might take two guys to get 162 games in.

Q.テつ You might have to have two guys at third base, two guys at catcher, two guys right field.テつ Is that a little tricky for you as far as what you're talking about trying to mix and match?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ Might be more of a platoon situation.テつ The two guys at catcher, that I'm not worried about because we always have two, sometimes three.
But the other two, it might be a bit of a platoon situation.テつ It might be something that we do.テつ That's something that I'll have to manage every day, but that's not necessarily difficult.

Q.テつ Joe, what's the situation with Ichiro now?テつ Have you circled back to him?テつ Is he still in play?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ These are things that are probably better to be answered by Brian than me.テつ Obviously, we have a lot of interest in a lot of players that we're not necessarily going to talk about at this time.テつ I can say he played very well for us last year.

Q.テつ Joe, would you be comfortable with having two players, like Ichiro and Gardner, in the same outfield?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I think you can work an outfield out a lot of different ways.テつ I think you can.テつ My job is to manage the players in the sense that they give me, and if that happens, that's something I'll have to work out.

Q.テつ You talked earlier in the off‑season with Granderson and Gardner potentially switching up positions.テつ Have you given any more thought to that?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ No, I haven't.テつ I'm still trying to figure out who we're going to have basically on that 25‑man roster, and who your four or five outfielders are going to be before I make any decisions.

Q.テつ Joe, have you any thoughts of trying to play Nunez any place but shortstop?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ That was something that we tried to stick to last year at the end.テつ We felt that it was somewhat difficult for him to be changing positions.テつ Depending on what moves we make this off‑season might tell you how much he possibly has to play at another position.
I thought he did a pretty good job when we just left him at shortstop for us last year, but is it something that we can expand this year?テつ Maybe.テつ But I expect him to be more of a shortstop than anything else.

Q.テつ Considering the news with Alex, would it create any value to say to a player like that, can you go play in the winter league someplace, the Dominican, at least play third base three, four times a week to see what it looks like, to give you, as the manager, an option?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ That's something that we can talk about.テつ What we think that he's going to need to do to possibly be a big part of our team.テつ I can tell you what, I liked the way he played when we called him up last year.テつ Any time you can play a different position and play multiple positions, especially the with the way our club is kind of constructed now with the injuries we have, it's very valuable.

Q.テつ The Red Sox added Napoli and they're on the verge of adding Victorino, what's your thoughts on those additions?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ Napoli can hit the ball out of the ballpark.テつ No doubt about it.テつ He had a great year in 2011.テつ Played well in 201.テつ Victorino is a guy that can play in the outfield, a switch hitter.テつ He's very dangerous from the right side.テつ A lot of left handers in our league.テつ They've improved our club.テつ No doubt about it.

Q.テつ What do you think happened to Curtis at the place the second half of the year?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ It's hard to say.テつ His contact rate went down a little bit.テつ I don't know if it's just a matter of he wasn't seeing as many mistakes played in a sense.テつ But we know how dangerous of a hitter he is.テつ He still had 40 homers and 100 RBIs. テつIf you could write that in from an outfielder, you're probably going to sign up for it.
I expect him to have a good year for us this year.

Q.テつ Was his vision an issue?テつ Somebody talked about having it checked.
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I think so.テつ I think it's okay.テつ I tried it once.テつ Came back, and my vision was great.テつ Didn't really help.

Q.テつ I know you guys lost Soriano.テつ Obviously, you're getting Mo back.テつ Do you feel like your bullpen is settled and you don't need to add anything?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I feel it's settled.テつ Obviously, we're going to have some competition because Cabral is going to be back, and we expect him to be pitching for us in Spring Training.テつ I think we probably have enough arms down there.

Q.テつ Joe, having done the Winter Meetings for these few years and things like that, does the kind of year the Yankees had this year change your approach?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ No.テつ I think our vision and our goal is to win the World Series every year.テつ We know how difficult it is because of the rounds of playoffs that you have to go through and how difficult our division is, but I don't think it's really changed our approach or what we try to do.

Q.テつ Joe, I don't think‑‑ you guys didn't have a rookie at bat until I think Melky Mesa literally in September.テつ Given the financial desires going forward, do you need to see‑‑ do you need to give Nunez at bats.テつ You mentioned Adams.テつ Do you need to figure some things out going forward?テつ Do you have to try some younger guys and see what they can do?
JOE GIRARDI:テつ I think, if you feel that they're ready, you try them, in a sense.テつ If you don't feel that they're ready, you're not just going to throw them out there because you want to give at bats to younger guys.テつ They have to be prepared to play at that level and play at a high level on an everyday basis.
In saying that, with the way the payroll is going to be and as we move forward, guys coming up through your minor league system that can be productive helps that a lot.

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