“You’ve got to look at every avenue you can to improve your club”

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Photo: New York Yankees

Joe Girardi was at Yankee Stadium this morning, joining David Cone and broadcaster Michael Kay along with more than 250 volunteers to help the USO create comfort packages for active duty service members.

While taking a 10-minute break from the assembly line, Girardi met with several reporters for a wide-ranging discussion, touching upon many of the topics that will develop over the weeks to come. Here are some of the highlights:

On general manager Brian Cashman saying he is ‘open to anything’:

“I think we’re always trying to figure out ways to improve the club. Sometimes it’s not necessarily through the free agent route, it can be through trade routes. We had some success in the trades that we made last year in acquiring Didi [Gregorius] and acquiring Justin Wilson and how big of a role that they played in our club. I think we’re going to continue to look at that. Obviously I like the guys on our club. I love how hard they played for us, but the goal is to win and win a World Series. I think when you talk about that, you’ve got to look at every avenue you can to improve your club.”

On needing a right-handed bat if they don’t retain Chris Young:

“I think balance is extremely important in a lineup. Obviously we had switch-hitters in the lineup. We lost a big one in Tex down the stretch. That was something that hurt us against left-handed pitching. I think a right-handed bat can help.”

New York Yankees' Brett Gardner, right, is congratulated by Alex Rodriguez after scoring against the Oakland Athletics during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 28, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. Gardner scored on a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

On Brett Gardner’s lingering injuries:

“You can look at it, he got hit in April I believe it was and that’s when it first started. May, June, July were all great, and he comes out and has that day against Toronto. Obviously everyone is dealing with something and you try to balance. It’s like, all these things that come across my desk on a daily basis, you’re saying, ‘OK, is this guy healthy enough to play? We need him out there.’ Those are things that you have to balance. It wasn’t just Brett. There were a number of guys that we had to deal with during the course of the year. Pitchers that we had to deal with, position players. You just try to balance it the best way you can.”

On talking to CC Sabathia:

“I have. He sounds great. Obviously I’m proud of how he stepped up and went and got help. He was pitching really well at the end of the season for us. Hopefully this continues to help and he has a great season for us next year.”

On the chances of Sabathia not being one of the starters:

“If he’s pitching the way he was at the end of the year, I don’t see that. I see him in our starting rotation. Obviously there’s going to be a number of people that are vying for those five spots. We have [Masahiro] Tanaka coming off that little minor elbow surgery that he’s coming off of that we’re going to have to deal with and see where he’s at. We expect him to be back on time. We were in a situation last year where we had to watch innings for certain guys. If he’s pitching well, he’s going to be in our rotation.”

On surprise over Tanaka’s surgery:

Masahiro Tanaka“He really didn’t have a lot of treatment on it, no. Guys sometimes, adrenaline can get them through a lot of different things. Like I said, guys are used to feeling some things during the course of the season and they play through it. That’s just the way it is. There’s a number of players at the end of the year that you don’t really hear a whole lot about that go have surgery, just to get some things tidied up. It didn’t keep him from making a start, it was never an issue. It really never came across my desk that he was having a lot of problems. It wasn’t what I expected at the end of the year. I didn’t go into the last week of the season saying I knew he needed surgery, because I didn’t.”

On Alex Rodriguez’s World Series TV experience:

“I think he did a good job. It’s not easy. The first time you do it, it’s actually somewhat stressful. And in an arena where he’s usually comfortable, at a ballpark, it’s a whole lot different when those lights go on and you’re expected to say something that’s insightful and not embarrass yourself, so I think he did a good job.”

On the Mets:

“I think they did a tremendous job, and their young players stepped up and pitched extremely well. Their offense got hot at the right time of the season. You don’t necessarily need motivation from outside sources. Our guys are motivated from within the organization, extremely motivated from within, and that’s why we put the uniform in.”

On if New York is a Mets city now:

“That’s always going to be a debate. Every year that’s going to be a debate. The bottom line is, we live in a great baseball city. That’s the bottom line. You have two teams that, there are high expectations moving forward, which I think is great. The play on the field determines which team is playing the latest and which team is talked about the most.”

On Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at second base:

“We’re going to have to see how the roster shakes out. I thought Ref did a pretty decent job at the and of the year for us. Especially when he didn’t play for 18 or 19 days, which was really pretty amazing. Lets just see how the offseason goes and we’ll go from there.”

Justin WilsonOn the Francisco Cervelli-Justin Wilson trade, one year ago:

“I think one of our strengths of our team was our bullpen and Cervy, if he was here, he would have gotten playing time but then again, Brian McCann would have been our everyday catcher. So, I think it worked out well for both clubs. Justin Wilson was extremely important to us and was a big part of our strength. We felt if we had the lead after six innings we were going to nail it down. And it wasn’t necessarily I couldn’t just shuffle those guys and put them in any order; they all did the job, so, it worked out well for both clubs.”

On Gary Sanchez, and the Yanks’ catching situation:

“I’m watching. My thought is it will be [Brian] McCann and [John Ryan] Murphy, but who knows what’s going to happen in the offseason, what you decide to do. The young man (Sanchez) had a really good year, made a lot of improvements. Played extremely well in the Fall League, off the charts, so I mean it’s something that we’re going to look at. It’s something that if you have an everyday catcher, you have to weigh the idea: do you want him to play once or twice a week or do you want him to continue to develop his traits? That’s something we’ll have to look at.”

On improving for 2016:

“We were one of 10 teams that made the playoffs. You look at our series with the Mets — and I know it’s during the regular season — and Kansas City, we played pretty well against those clubs. Kansas City, obviously, you look at their club, they played extremely well, but there are going to be changes there. So, yeah, I think we have to make a few tweaks and stay out of that one-game playoff so your whole team can take effect.”

On avoiding the one-game Wild Card playoff:

“I think that’s how we thought last year. I don’t think that’s going to change. I never said: let’s just get in. I really wanted to win our division because there are too many things that can go wrong in a one game playoff, that’s the problem. So, it will be to win our division.”

On the bullpen, and any possibility of dealing Andrew Miller:

“You would like to keep everything intact, but I think you have to weigh: does whatever we do make us better? And if we feel it makes us better, I think we have to do it. Yes, that was a strength of our club, those guys pitched extremely well and were dominant and if we had the lead after six innings, we won ballgames. If we feel it would improve our club, I’m sure we’ll try to make a deal.”

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