|Family affair: Cartwheels, knockdowns and laughs on Girardi's first day as manager|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 15 February 2008 12:55|
Serena Girardi took her cuts, and the 8-year-old followed with a cartwheel in foul territory. Dante Girardi, wearing his father's No. 27, had some swings, then put on the catcher's gear and moved behind the plate before dad slid home, stuck out an arm and knocked down the 6-year-old as they laughed.
Lena, just 17 months old, toddled around in a blue batting helmet as mom stood to the first-base side of the mound and watched.
These aren't Joe Torre's Yankees anymore.
``It happens real fast,'' the new manager said Friday after the team's first workout of the year. ``You spend a couple months, three months planning for this, and all of a sudden you're in it.''
After pitchers threw their bullpen sessions and did their sprints at Legends Field, after the catchers blocked balls in the dirt, Girardi addressed the media, then went back onto the diamond for what seemed to be Family Day.
Crystal in the manager's office or Marvin Hamlisch and a chorus line of celebrities in the dugout. Perhaps they'll put in appearances across the state at Vero Beach, where Torre has taken over as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers following 12 years in pinstripes.
Girardi fastidiously picked up balls from the field when batting practice ended.
``That's my wife's influence,'' he said. ``She doesn't pick up after me anymore.''
Torre won four World Series titles in his first five seasons but none in the next seven. When the Yankees offered him a paycut after last October's first-round elimination, Torre decided to move on and general manager Brian Cashman picked Girardi over Don Mattingly as the replacement.
With his stories of Bob Gibson, a soothing demeanor and an innate ability to defuse dissension, Torre etched himself into Yankees history alongside Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel - Hall of Famers all. Torre became a New York icon, as famous as his All-Star players.
a father figure, and we're going to miss him dearly. He's a great man,'' catcher Jorge Posada said. ``Joe Girardi brings a - he's just a little different. He's a hands-on guy. He's going to be a little bit more critical and he's going to be a little tougher on us than we got it in the past.''
Wait a New York minute, said Girardi, who played for Torre's Yankees from 1996-99.
``I thought Joe was pretty hands-on,'' he said. ``Joe had his arm around players all the time, talking about situations.''
When Andy Pettitte reports Monday, Girardi will get his first test in crisis management. Pettitte was given permission to arrive four days late after corroborating to a congressional committee allegations that friend and former teammate Roger Clemens had talked to him about using steroids and human growth hormone, charges the Rocket denies.
There will be times when owner George Steinbrenner pops off. Alex Rodriguez surely will create controversy. Girardi even said he wouldn't mind if Hank Steinbrenner, now in charge of overseeing baseball operations, becomes an on-field presence during workouts, just like his father used to be.
``I would love it. It's his team,'' the new manager said.
For now, players said it was too early for comparisons. Mike Mussina and Posada did notice that Girardi made it to the backfields to watch players run. Mussina, one of the team's senior leaders, remembered how Torre delegated to pitching coaches Mel Stottlemyre and Ron Guidry. It won't be that way under Girardi.
``He likes to be prepared,'' Moose said. ``He's involved in the - I don't want to say day-to-day, but the minute-to-minute stuff. Joe Torre was very, very comfortable in saying Mel or Gator, you take care of it. If there's a problem, come to me.''
On a sun-splashed afternoon, with the pressure of needing to win 6 1/2 weeks away, Girardi delighted in his initial moments managing baseball's most storied franchise - and three very excited children.
``I'm just going to be who I am. No matter who came in, their approach would be different,'' he said. ``We're not clones.''
There is one difference from when he was a player.
``My phone rings more,'' he said. ``And I'm not a fast text messager, too.''