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 NEW YORK (AP) -On his first day at Yankee Stadium as New York's manager, Joe Girardi already was watching his back.
When he stepped to the podium and put on his new pinstripes, the number on his jersey was 27. Did it have something to do with World Series titles?
``How many do they have?'' he said, knowing the Yankees have been stuck on 26 championships since 2000.
His number will be a constant reminder of his mandate. Still, he wouldn't predict whether his team can win it all next season.
``You don't have all the pieces together, so it's hard to evaluate exactly where we're going to be,'' he said.
Girardi, who won three World Series titles while catching for the Yankees from 1996-99, talked about how much getting the job meant to him and his father, Jerry.
``I try not to get emotional, but my father hasn't spoke in a month. And when the lady who takes care of my father, he has Alzheimer's, showed him the picture of me as the new Yankee manager, my father said, `Oh yeah,''' he said.
Girardi takes a job held by Hall of Famers Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel. He follows Joe Torre, who quit two weeks ago and on Thursday became manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It didn't take Girardi long to find out what it means to be the Yankees manager.
``I got a call from Yogi last night and you realize the stature of the position when Yogi calls you at your house and says, `Do I still get to come to spring training?''' Girardi said, lowering his voice to mimic that of Hall of Famer Yogi Berra.
Girardi, knowing the Yankees manager is under constant scrutiny, also said he'll change his phone number. Before his news conference, he took a tour of the new Yankee Stadium, under construction across the street and scheduled to open in 2009. He walked by where the clubhouse will be and the path to the dugout.
``Just kind of how your every day would be,'' he said. ``Tremendous time to have this opportunity, to be a part of the history here, and then to be able to be a part of it in the new stadium is really, really unique. As I was walking through it, smelling the new concrete. And the foul poles were up.''
He can only hope he makes it to the new ballpark. Owner George Steinbrenner, while receding from the daily operations, can pop up at any time to criticize his manager. One of their bonds is Northwestern - Steinbrenner was an assistant football coach there, and Girardi later was a student.
``I still think the Boss is the Boss. And obviously, I've always enjoyed my time with him, dealing with him. There's times that we've joked about, you know, our Northwestern football vs. Buckeye football and I will continue to enjoy that,'' Girardi said. ``He was very congratulatory. He said: `It's great to have you aboard.'''
He had not yet been to his new office, where Torre's belongings had been cleared out and just outside, an oversized 2007 schedule was on the floor. Moving into the office will feel strange ``because it's been occupied by a great man,'' Girardi said.
While he spoke in a restaurant in the bowels of the ballpark, Girardi's name and picture were displayed on the scoreboard behind center field. General manager Brian Cashman presented Girardi's wife, Kim, with a bouquet of roses.
Girardi, who got a $7.8 million, three-year contract, beat out bench coach Don Mattingly and first-base coach Tony Pena for the job. Girardi said he had spoken with Torre, who managed the Yankees to 12 straight postseason appearances.
``Joe had always been a person I always looked up to, respected,'' Girardi said. ``We had a great conversation.''
Girardi, who also spent time as a coach and broadcaster for the Yankees, was NL Manager of the Year with the Florida Marlins in 2006, then was fired after he clashed with his bosses. He was vague when pressed on how he will be different from Torre.
``Just give me a chance and you'll find out,'' he said.
Notes: LF Hideki Matsui will have arthroscopic knee surgery, which Cashman termed ``routine cleanup.'' ... SS Derek Jeter's knee will heal without surgery, Cashman said. ... Cashman said LHP Andy Pettitte had told him he will pitch for the Yankees or retire.
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