Today I had the great opportunity to head over to Yankee Stadium and be part of the press conference with Joe Girardi and Terry Collins. The event started with some talk about how much they both love Dunkin Donuts (sponsor of the event).
Girardi and Collins both spoke about the cross-town rivalry and what it means to the teams. They agreed that it’s the passion of the fans that really drives it. When the Mets were in Washington fans were asking them about it before the Nationals series was even over. Girardi brought up how it’s tough to go out around town if you lose because he knows he’ll hear about it from the Mets fans teasing him and the Yankee fans being upset.
Collins spoke on Johan Santana’s last outing with the no-hitter and had a funny anecdote that after the seventh inning no one would even be there to answer the bullpen phone because everyone back there was up along the fence watching.
How has Andy Pettite effected the clubhouse, his play on the field is better than anyone expected right away, how has he made the team better off the field?
Girardi: His presence is really powerful because he has an expectation for himself and for everyone else. He’s made a difference in the rotation, you can see the rotation has consistently gotten better since he joined. I don’t know if they’re worried he’s going to take one of their spots, but I really believe it’s his presence. His calmness and preparation, for the other guys to be able to see a 39 year old man go to work everyday, I think you can learn a lot from him. He means a lot more to this team than just the day that he pitches.
What did Dickey find at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro that has him leading the league in wins?
Collins: A better knuckler with command of that sucker!
How is it different going into a big game as a player compared to as a manager?
Girardi: It’s much easier as a player, you’re only responsible for yourself and once you get on the field and start playing all that stuff goes away and you’re focused on that one play or pitch. As a manager you’re responsible for a lot more people out there and you need to focus on setting up the bullpen and everything else.
How do you feel about interleague throughout the season instead of once a year?
Girardi: Well, it’ll be different because usually you try to get everybody ready for about a month, but now you always have to be ready. It’ll be good though because we won’t have those long stands where we lose the DH. Last year we lost our DH for 9 straight games. This year we won’t have that, so it’ll be better that way.
What’s your philosophy with managing a big name, big money roster?
Girardi: It’s nice! But money doesn’t always produce wins, it just means you’ve done it already and they expect you to continue to do it. But they don’t wanna be treated like that, they’re human beings. They have their good days and their bad days and their issues. They want to be treated like men. They know the expectations of putting on a Yankee uniform and that’s what I try to manage.
Two months into the season, what do you like about your team so far and what do you think needs to be improved on?
Collins: To improve, we need to start getting healthy. We need to get Jason back in the lineup and Tejada back in the lineup. What I like is our passionate play. I’ve told people, our young players, they don’t know they’re not supposed to be very good. When they take the field, they think they’re gonna win and that’s the way they’ve gone about it. I credit the veterans on the club, the leadership that they’ve shown in the clubhouse. That’s the fun part of watching them play every night. They don’t get down about it and when they have a good game they don’t get too high either. They know they have to come back out the next day. The young guys are trying to survive, they wanna stay here. They want to go out and show people they belong here.
Girardi: With the struggles that we’ve had at times and the injuries we’ve had, we’re only a half game out of first place I give those guys a lot of credit. No matter who goes down, someone is there to step up. The bullpen has done a tremendous job. We’ve had some struggles with the starting rotation and hitting with runners in scoring position and we look up and we’re a half a game out and I believe all that’s going to change, that bodes well for us.
Talk a little about what’s going on with Ike Davis?
Collins: We try to preach patience in this organization and this guy has tremendous ability. I still believe your seeing the effects of a guy who missed an entire season and is trying to get back. I want to make sure Ike understands we’re behind him and he’s gotta continue to work. If you talk to the players they’ll tell you he’s a tremendous teammate and you don’t wanna lose that. I’ve never seen a guy would come who would come to bat, not a big situation, and have more teammates routing for him to get a hit. To me, I don’t wanna lose those kinda guys.
The minute all of a sudden where a decision is gonna be made, it’s gonna be made with enough to back it up and make a decision and have given him every opportunity but right now we’re not at that point.
Other notes from the conference:
– Jason Bay will be in the lineup and playing left field tonight.
– Gardner said that his elbow wasn’t feeling sore and will be playing this weekend in Charleston.
– Robertson threw live bp yesterday and they’re waiting to see how he feels today and if all is well he’ll go on a rehab start.
– Mariano Rivera has been around the team on all home stands.
*some answers are paraphrased
Todd Giannattasio is a guest blogger for New York State Of Sports. Todd is the CCO of Tresnic Media which specializes in web marketing and small business SEO. You can follow him on Twitter @TresnicMedia