It’s the 65th annual Old-Timers’ Day. Joe Torre is back as a first-timer. He seemed happy to put on the pinstripes again for the first time since 2007. He was back for George Steinbrenner’s monument unveiling last September and he’s been back here this season in his role as MLB’s executive VP of baseball operations. Torre feels all the awkwardness is gone with the Steinbrenners and Brian Cashman over his departure and subsequent book.
“Everything is gone,” Torre said. “When I came back last year, I talked to Brian and I saw the Steinbrenner family last year when they had that tribute to George. It’s very comfortable for me. With my new job now, I’m here a lot because I spend a lot of time in New York. I’m enjoying coming here and feeling free to go in the clubhouse.”
The parting wasn’t as enjoyable.
“I think they probably wanted to do something else,” Torre said. “I think it became uncomfortable on both sides on how to separate. Unfortunately it wasn’t pretty.”
Torre gave thanks to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera for playing a large part in his accomplishments here over 12 years. If at all possible, he plans to be in the house, wherever that is, when Jeter gets his 3,000 hit. First Jeter has to recover from his calf strain. He was supposed to do some light jogging for the second straight day, today in Tampa, where he’s celebrating his 37th birthday.
“I had it scheduled perfectly,” Torre said. “I was in Chicago and Cincinnati. He wasn’t . Hopefully when he does come back, I’ll be able to do that.”
Torre and fellow first-timer Bernie Williams received the longest ovations during the introductions.
“When I was playing, I always looked forward to this day,” Williams said. “It reminded me that I was just part of a family that has gone on for 100 years, that I’m a part of something bigger than myself.”
Williams is a musician now, but he never announced his retirement.
“I have not officially retired, but I think it’s close,” Williams said smiling.
There was a special video tribute to retiring trainer Gene Monahan before the Old-Timers’ game. Monahan threw out the first ball to Jorge Posada, wearing his catching equipment no less. Monahan, whose fiancee and two daughters were on hand, threw a strike.
Then the Yankees honored Monahan, who has been with the organization for 49 years. Steve Donohue, the assistant trainer, presented him with the frieze from his locker at the old stadium. Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Goose Gossage presented him with two seats from the old stadium. The Steinbrenner family gave him a painting of the old stadium. He was given a new lawnmower and lawn-care products for his house in North Carolina. He also received a Garth Brooks-autographed Stetson hat and a trip to Las Vegas to see Brooks in concert, a VIP package to NASCAR’s championship weekend in Miami in November and a 15-day family vacation to the Alps. The current team’s gift was a 2012 Ford pickup trip and a dog, just what he wanted.
*Girardi announced his rotation for the Milwaukee series that begins here Tuesday night. Brian Gordon is being skipped thanks to the off day Monday. It will be Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia, who will face his old team.
*Girardi doesn’t think Alex Rodriguez’s sore knee will be an issue all season.
*”It’s treatable,” Girardi said. “He’s playing today. It’s just something I’m aware of. … If I can get him out of a game early, I’ll do that.”