Joe Girardi was in Times Square tonight to accept the Bobby Murcer Award from the Baseball Assistance Team, a group that provides aid to former players, coaches and others in the “baseball family” who need financial, medical or psychological assistance. Before the awards dinner, Girardi spoke for about five minutes.
To Bryan Hoch‘s eternal credit, the first question was about Murcer and the spirit of the evening, but the bulk of the questions were about — you guessed it — Johnny Damon.
“I don’t think anything is completely shut until it’s completely shut,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about our budget and what we have, and it has to work in everybody’s framework. I don’t see it getting done, but you never say never.”
Obviously the winter hasn’t gone exactly as Damon hoped or expected, but Girardi said Damon’s “spirits were great” when the two talked recently. Girardi said he wouldn’t worry about Damon carrying any frustration into New York should he return at a steep pay cut.
“Players who come back, they want to win,” Girardi said. “I think Johnny wants to play for a while, so it would be in Johnny’s best interest to have a good year and see if he can parlay that into a bigger deal the following year or the next year. I would not have any concerns about Johnny coming back. I think Johnny loves to play and Johnny loves to win, no matter what it takes.”
• Girardi said he wouldn’t rule out the idea of Brett Gardner starting in center field and Curtis Granderson moving to left next season. He said, “I do,” when asked if he saw the two as fairly interchangeable in left and center. “You’ve got to wait to see what happens here,” Girardi said. “If we do sign another bat, another outfielder, and how that adjusts everybody’s playing time. I’m not really locked into anything.”
• I mentioned Bryan Hoch earlier. Tonight he reported this quote from Cashman regarding Damon: “I’m not having any discussions on him. His abilities exceed the money that I have.”
• Today’s trade does not affect the Yankees pursuit of a right-handed hitting outfielder. “No, not necessarily,” Girardi said. “The kid we picked up today, Greg Golson, is kind of what Gardy was. We expect Gardy to have more playing time, and (Golson) gives us another guy like Gardy (off the bench) if we feel there’s a need.”
• On Francisco Cervelli being in line to takeover as the backup catcher: “I think it’s a job that he can do. He played at a very high level for us last year and I think he learned a lot. He got some great experience. I think it’s a job that he can handle.”
• Girardi said Bernie Williams has not talked about wanting to come into spring training as an instructor, but if Williams asked about it, Girardi said he would certainly want to discuss the possibility.
• Girardi took the World Series trophy to his daughter’s school this morning. Has anyone ever topped that for show-and-tell?
• Girardi on accepting an award with Murcer’s name on it: “Bobby worked very hard trying to get the players to give back, and it has come to fruition and the players have been generous. For our team to be the highest giving team in the American League, it says a lot about Bobby but it says a lot about our organization. It’s something the Steinbrenner family has always done, which is giving back. To have Bobby’s name on the award, it feels good.”