ALDS Game 3: Joe Girardi pregame interview
NEW YORK YANKEES
Q. There’s been a lot of talk about moving Alex potentially in the lineup. What made you stick with him in that 3 spot?
JOE GIRARDI: A couple different I trust our guys. I’m with him every day. I’m with their approach every day, and it’s important that they trust me. The other thing is we played playoff baseball the whole month of September and the first three days of October and Alex hit third and we won a lot of games with a lineup that we kept consistent and guys knew where they were at every day, and I think there’s something to be said for that.
Q. It’s obvious this isn’t the first time you’ve had an aging star player that’s struggling and you’ve got to figure out how to manage that. I was wondering at what point over the years that would be a big part of your job here and if you’ve learned anything about trying to manage these kind of situations?
JOE GIRARDI: Probably the last couple years. I’ve managed some players that have gotten some age and start to get near the end of the career or it’s their last year and you have to go through some tough situations. And you’ve just got to deal with them. Each player is different, though. Each player is going to handle things differently, and it’s important that you have the pulse of the player. You spend a lot of times developing that relationship, so when situations arise there’s a trust factor there.
Q. You barely need to use your bullpen in the first two games. I’m wondering how pleased you are about that, and on the flip side is there a down side of guys getting rusty at all?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, that’s a concern. Rust is a little concern for me. I don’t think the rest hurts our guys this time of year, but I do have some concerns about that. But I’ve been very pleased with what we’ve gotten out of our starters. They’ve been great, and hopefully it continues.
Q. With Alex, is there any concern that if you would have moved him, there might be some bruised ego like there was when Torre dropped him to eight against Detroit?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think whenever you move a player, it has a chance, not only to affect the player, but it could affect the whole team, too. There are different things that you have to worry about, and sometimes moving one player causes you to move two or three, or maybe even four, because our lineup is built around somewhat protecting our lefthanded hitters from matchups, and that’s a concern, too.
So I know people talk about why don’t you just do this. It’s not always so easy as just moving one guy when you change the lineup.
Q. I know you told the beat writers that Hughes will pitch Game 4 regardless of the outcome tonight, and you had told them that you did not want to pitch Andy on short rest in Game 5. I’m curious did you approach him about that possibility and he said I don’t think I can do it or do you feel like it’s a moot point, he can’t do it regardless?
JOE GIRARDI: I have my concerns about it. You know, he talked about what his schedule was today, and I told him what our plans were. This is a guy that’s coming off an injury, didn’t have a ton of starts, threw as many pitches the other day as he’s thrown in a while. He’s 40 years old. So I do have some concerns about that.
Q. You mentioned continuity as one of the reasons for keeping the lineup as it is. Can you go through some of the machinations and who you talk to when you have to make a high profile decision about a lineup, how much thought you put into it, who you talk to, what are the other decisions besides continuity on the ear site of the ledger?
JOE GIRARDI: A normal day for me about deciding who my lineup is people ask me how much time do you usually spend on your lineup. I probably spend more time worrying about the lineup than I do about our bullpen. The bullpen is dictated at where you are at during the game. The lineup is trying to put the best hitters in there to help you succeed and putting them in spots. I’ll watch video of the opposing pitcher against our club, I’ll look at matchups, I’ll look at our guys’ strengths and what I think our guys’ strengths are during the course of the season, how they match up against a guy because sometimes numbers don’t always tell you the true story. That’s why I like to watch the atbat. Sometimes you just see a guy really well.
I’ll talk to my coaching staff about it, sometimes talk to the front office a little bit about it. It’s a process that now is with all the talk about moving Alex, everyone’s awareness is a little heightened, but it’s a process that I go through every day. It’s a normal day for me to think about who I’m going to play.
And this year was somewhat complicated because we had so many injuries. So I mean, you really had to look at some things, and sometimes you didn’t have atbats against other guys. But it’s a process that we go through with my coaching staff every day almost.
Q. Sticking with the lineup, Eric Chávez playing today, your lineup hasn’t had great success against González in the starts this season. Chávez is one of those guys, 3for6 with a home run. Did that have to a lot to go into putting Chávez in the lineup?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, I watched Chávie’s atbats. I watched it two starts. Chávie also lined out for one of his outs, too, and I thought his atbats were really good. So that had something to do with it, sure.
Q. We talked about the lineup all year. What’s your theory about some people say you bat Cano third, he’s your best hitter, you want him up as much. What’s your thinking there?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, then you have to probably move three guys if you do that. You’re probably going to have to move Ichiro to the 1 hole and Jeet to the 2 hole, and I’ve liked really what they’ve done the other way. So that’s a concern because now you have lefties stacked. So those are that’s what I talk about, it’s not that simple. You talk about moving other guys, as well.
Q. How do you think Alex looks to you physically, psyche wise, emotionally, and is it something that you speak to him directly when you make your lineup decision just because he’s been the subject of so much discussion or do you not do that and you post the lineup and he sees where he is?
JOE GIRARDI: Players are pretty aware if I’m going to make a change I’ll let them know the night before or early that day. He probably assumed since there was no phone call or no texting that he was in the No. 3 spot. Now, I didn’t tell him he was going to DH, but that’s not a big deal.
And what was the other part of your question?
Q. How he’s looked to you.
JOE GIRARDI: Physically he looks fine to me. Mentally he looks fine to me. If Alex’s ball that he scores in the first inning goes through, maybe we’re not talking so much about the they can’t control where they hit them. His job is to put a good swing on the ball, he did, and Andino made a great play.
Q. Kuroda struggled in September but had that strong start to finish the regular season. Did that erase any concerns you had about all the innings he’s logged this season?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, it’s the time of year that all starting pitchers are probably a little tired, so we think the extra rest is going to help him. It’s not unusual for a starter to go through a period of time where they’re going to be really sharp and not really sharp. I mean, he went through it the first month, and it wasn’t fatigue. We thought maybe it was getting adjusted to New York. It just happens. I feel good about him on the mound because I’ve seen what he’s done all year for us.
Q. How do you view coming home? You had the best record in the majors at home this year, but against the Orioles you struggled.
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah. Well, I like that we’re at home because I think our club is built around our home ballpark, so it makes me feel good. We’ll see more blue shirts than orange.
Q. There’s obviously a lot of positives that go along with having your job, but is managing aging, iconic players, is that something that might be the most difficult part of your job, and if so, why? If not, why not?
JOE GIRARDI: You know, I’ve always talked about when you manage aging players, selfevaluation either makes my job easy or it makes it hard when a player is aging. And one of the things about great players is they have strong minds and always believe that they can do it. It can be a tough part of the job. It’s not something that I have to worry about every day. If I thought about my year this year, probably my two biggest concerns were injuries and managing players that were older and how much they could play for us this year.
So it is on my mind, but it’s not the biggest thing.
Q. Raul is on the bench tonight.
JOE GIRARDI: Correct.
Q. How important is it knowing that you have that bullet for late in the game knowing how clutch he’s been this season?
JOE GIRARDI: He’s been a really big pinchhitter for us, and I like having that. That’s not the reason I didn’t start him. It’s just I looked at Chávie and Raul’s atbats were pretty good off this guy, too, but Chávie’s atbats were really good, so I decided to go that way, but it’s nice to have that.
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