The feeling at Yankee Stadium is just a little different than usual tonight. There is no mistaking the atmosphere. Tonight’s George Steinbrenner tribute and the presence of Joe Torre and Don Mattingly bring back a lot of the feelings from across the street.
“George is responsible for the best years of my life professionally,” Torre said.
Of course, most of the pregame buzz centered on Torre, who sat with Mattingly for a nearly 20-minute press conference, saying he doesn’t expect to manage next season but does plan to make this the first of many trips back to Yankee Stadium. Torre and Brian Cashman spoke for quite a while, and shared a hug between Torre’s press conference and Cashman’s.
“Those last three years of manager here I was stressed,” Torre said. “If you try to be rational about it, I think you have two parties not knowing how to say goodbye.”
As for Mattingly, he walked away with none of Torre’s hard feelings. Even when he was not given the manager job, Mattingly said there was no bitterness.
“There have been no bridges burned,” Mattingly said. “I love the Yankees. They’ve been a part of me my whole life. They taught me about playing this game. I love to come back to the Bronx. There’s no question about it.”
Some of it is difficult to hear, especially when Mattingly is speaking, but here’s the audio of the Torre and Mattingly press conference.
• Joe Girardi said he did not check with Mark Teixeira before making out tonight’s lineup. “I just put him in there,” Girardi said. “He said yesterday, ‘I’m ready to go.’”
• Same with Nick Swisher playing right field. Swisher told Girardi last night that he was ready to play the field again. “It’s time to go,” Swisher said. “Two weeks left in the season, it’s time to get going.”
• Girardi plans to have Teixeira, Swisher and Alex Rodriguez in the lineup throughout this series. “I would like to play them all four,” Girardi said. “It’s something we’ll have to evaluate day to day.”
• Asked if there was any psychological advantage to having the Rays witness such a historic ceremony before the game, Girardi said he actually liked seeing events like when he was a player, even when he was playing on the opposing team.
• As for Ivan Nova, Girardi said Nova’s problems in that fifth inning last time out stemmed from his inability to get ahead in the count. When he fell behind, Girardi said, Nova was too fastball heavy. “You have to be able to continue to mix your pitches in those situations,” he said.
• There is a wall outside of Girardi’s office that has the signatures of dozens of former Yankees who have come back to the stadium. Torre and Mattingly finally signed the wall today.
• For those folks in the comment section: We’ll stick with this post until around 7:30. The game post will go live after the pregame ceremony.
Associated Press photos of Torre and Teixiera on the bench with Andy Pettitte