Manager Offers Thoughts On Loss Of Cano, New Additions, Work To Be Done

ORLANDO, Fla. (WFAN) — The manager of the Yankees is generally used to acquiring great players, not losing them. Joe Girardi sat down to meet the media Tuesday and had the chance to publicly address for the first time the loss of Robinson Cano to Seattle.

After Cano agreed to his deal with the Mariners a report surfaced in the New York Post that Cano was unhappy with Girardi for the number of times the manager placed him in the two-hole in the batting order last season, WFAN’s Sweeny Murti reported.  The following is Girardi’s response:

Here is the more of the media session with Girardi from Tuesday afternoon:

Brian said you guys hadn’t talked about outfield alignment, where do you think you’ll be?

Girardi:  “Well, I think there are a couple different things that we can do. We’ll just wait until the offseason is almost over before we have those discussions. I’ll sit down and talk to Jacoby next week. I think his press conference is Friday. So I guess that’s this week. Talk to him, sit down and talk to Gardy, and decide what we’re going to do.”

What do you expect from Ichiro next year?

Girardi:  “Well, we’ve made some moves. I can’t really tell you. I know he’ll be prepared and I know he’ll work hard.  We’ll see how the offseason ends up before we decide exactly how the pieces are all going to fit. I always think that is the fair thing to do before you make an assumption that this guy’s going to play there or this guy. You have to wait until it’s all said and done.”

You had a similar situation in 2008, didn’t make the playoffs. Got a lot of big free agents. You knew right away you were better. Is this different for you? Because you’ve improved, but you’ve also subtracted a big piece.

Girardi:  “Yeah, it’s a little different. But as I said, the offseason is not over. We made some moves in that year, and I think they were all done in the month of December, I think. So this month is far from over. The winter meetings are far from over. I think we’ll look different come Jan. 31 than we do right now.”

You still have a fair amount of age on this roster that you’re bringing back. Is that just a continuing manner of managing them and trying to get through the season?

Girardi: “Yeah, I think so. It’s something I’ve had to do the last few years. Good thing is they’re younger than me, so we don’t have to worry about that. And you’ve just got to manage a little bit. Some of it is DH days, some of it is days off.”

How much next year hinges really on CC coming back, Teixeira coming back, Jeter coming back, Alex’s situation? How much do you have to pay attention to the top of the order, to unknowns that you can’t do anything about? You have to wait and see?

Girardi: “I think you have to pay a lot of attention because they’re a big part of our team. I feel much better about CC, a year removed from that surgery. His hamstring healed up very well. Maybe one of the best games he pitched was the last game of the year, and he was trying to fight to throw another game, and we were like no, CC.

“Derek, I know he’s going to do everything he can to be the player he was before he got hurt, and I feel good about that because I know it’s hard. And Tex, I’m confident he’s going to be back and be a force in the middle of our line.  But it’s something I’m going to have to pay attention to in spring training and probably early in the season.”

Do you have just one open spot in the rotation right now, do you think with what you have, you need a high impact pitcher, a middle of the rotation kind of pitcher, or do you think with CC and Kuroda and Nova, the top three in your rotation, that’s good enough to win?

Girardi: “I feel good about the top three that we have. But I think our club will look to see how we can improve. It doesn’t mean there is a deal out there to be had. But I think Brian and his staff will continue to look to improve and we’ll just see. We’ll see how some of these young kids emerge.

“You had Phelps who pitched pretty well last year. We felt Warren took some big steps, Pineda, and you got Nuno, and some guys that are going to compete. But I think we’ll look to see what we can have.”

Because of what you went through with Derek last season, when are you going to feel comfortable with what you’re seeing out there?

Girardi: “I think as we near the end of spring training, as you’re starting to play in back‑to‑back days and seeing how he responds is when you get a much better idea how he’s playing.”

Aside from Robertson, you know he’ll be somewhere, do you have another reliever that you think ‘I know this guy’s going to be there playing a role for me right now?’

Girardi: “Oh, I do.  I think Kelly’s going to be in the bullpen. I think, obviously, Claiborne’s going to be in our bullpen. Then you have a mixture of Phelps or Warren, depending on if they’re in the rotation, those type of guys. So some of the guys that possibly are competing for rotation spots, the ones that don’t make it, are probably going to slide to the bullpen. That’s why it’s hard to tell where everyone’s going to be.”

What did you guys like about Kelly Johnson? How do you see him fitting in?

Girardi: “It’s a young man that hits the ball in the ballpark, changes the game fairly quickly. He’s productive in the amount of at‑bats he gets. Has versatility, second, third, plays the outfield. He’s not going to clog up the bases. There are things he can do, and he provides a lot of punch at our ballpark.”

There was a lot of talk about eliminating the catcher collisions. What do you think?

Girardi: “I always thought it was part of the game. I know that they’re trying to protect catchers. And concussions are an issue in our country not only in football but in other sports. I know it’s a concern and you don’t want to see players get hurt. I think part of it is just having the sense not to run over a catcher if you can slide. But sometimes the emotions of players get the best of them.

“I lost time as a catcher being run over a couple different times, but I thought it was part of my job and I enjoyed the contact. Now I’m not so sure that everyone enjoys contact. But I love football, so I liked it.”

Would you like to see it eliminated?

Girardi: “I could go either way, but I still believe it’s part of the game.”

What are your expectations for Pineda?

Girardi: “We’d love for him to compete in our starting rotation. That’s why we traded for him. Unfortunately, he had the injuries that really slowed him down. But we’d love to see him compete for a spot and be a force like he was in Seattle.”

Have you had any discussions at all or text messages with Alex as far as whether he’s working out as if he’ll be playing in spring training?

Girardi: “I’ve had text messages with Alex, but it’s been more ‘how are you doing’ than about working out. I know Alex will be prepared to play because he loves to play. So that’s not really a concern of mine.”

There’s been obviously a lot of talk about Tanaka out of Japan. Any thoughts on him being added to the rotation, and any thoughts on the posting system in general?

Girardi: “I don’t have a lot of thoughts. I think there is some clarity to that now, and I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen in this situation. But obviously he had a tremendous year last year, 24-0. I don’t know how you get much better than that, except you have a zero ERA, and I don’t think that’s actually possible. He had a tremendous year, and if he does come over to the States, I’m sure he will add to any rotation.”

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