CHICAGO (AP) — Yankees manager Joe Girardi says he has a number in mind, and it’s not 1908.
Girardi brushed aside questions about whether he’s interested in the Chicago Cubs’ job before New York opened a three-game series against the White Sox on Friday night, insisting he’s focused on leading the Yankees to consecutive championships and their 28th World Series title overall.
“I have a responsibility to the Steinbrenners, who have treated me great, my family great, to (general manager) Brian Cashman and his staff, to the guys in that room and to the entire organization and our fan base, to do whatever I can to get No. 28,” he said.
It’s been 102 years since the Cubs won a World Series, a drought Girardi knows all about. He was born in Peoria, went to college at Northwestern and played six seasons for the Cubs during two stints with the club that drafted him in 1986.
Then there’s his contract situation and his family ties to the area, so of course his name came up when Cubs manager Lou Piniella decided to retire. Girardi, shortstop Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera are each in the final year of their deals with the Yankees.
“We’re in a tight division race and my job is to prepare this team to play every day and that’s what I’m focusing on,” Girardi said. “My faith has always been extremely important to me and I’ve never worried about next year. I’m happy with my contract situation. I feel I’m fortunate to be one of 30 managers with a contract.
“There are people in this organization who have done a lot more for this organization than I have who don’t have contracts. We’re not worried about it for next year. I’m worried about right now.”
Girardi, 45, won the NL Manager of the Year award in 2006 with the Florida Marlins and led New York to its first World Series title since 2000 in his second season in the Yankees’ dugout. He had a 270-182 record with New York after Friday night’s 9-4 loss.
The Yankees are tied with Tampa Bay for the AL East lead, at a baseball-best 78-50.
Girardi got some good news before the series opener when left-hander Andy Pettitte breezed through a limited bullpen session at U.S. Cellular Field. Pettitte, trying to come back from a strained left groin, threw 25 pitches at about 75 percent.
“It was a relief,” Pettitte said. “There’s no doubt, because unfortunately I’ve been stressed about it. I want to be healthy. I want to pitch. I want to do my job.”
Pettitte is 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA but hasn’t appeared in a game since he was injured throwing a pitch against the Rays on July 18. The three-time All-Star had a bit of a setback when he felt stiffness in his groin during a simulated game a couple weeks ago.
“It’s encouraging,” Girardi said. “See how he feels tomorrow and maybe another bullpen on Sunday, but he didn’t have that little tug he’s talked about in his throwing and that’s good news.”
AP freelance writer Travis Miller contributed to this report.
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