Girardi meets with Steinbrenner

February 17, 2008 2:24:31 PM PST
Joe Girardi was summoned upstairs for the first time.The new manager of the New York Yankees met Sunday with owner George Steinbrenner, who hadn't spoken with Girardi since the former catcher interviewed for the job last October.

"It was great to see him. He was doing well," Girardi said after Sunday's session at Legends Field.

Girardi was accompanied by spring training instructors Goose Gossage and Ron Guidry, coach Rob Thomson and general manager Brian Cashman. The Yankees haven't lost any games since Girardi was hired, so the atmosphere was jovial as Gossage and Guidry told old stories.

"We were joking a little bit and we were laughing, so it was good," Girardi said. "He's just encouraging us to do what we always do here. So, Mr. Steinbrenner was great."

Steinbrenner's walking was shaky when he got out of his golf cart with "GMS" on the front. The 77-year-old has relinquished day-to-day oversight of the team to sons Hank and Hal, but Girardi plans to have regular contact with the owner.

Girardi chose "27" as his number, a message that the goal is to win the Yankees' 27th World Series title.

"I'm thankful for what he allowed me to do, not just sitting in this chair but as a player, as a broadcaster with the club, as a coach," Girardi said. "Obviously you'd love to be able to repay for what he's done for my life.

Making a rare weekend appearance at Legends Field, Steinbrenner congratulated Gossage for his election last month into the Hall of Fame. According to Cashman, he asked Girardi about "G.I. Joe" headlines, referring to strenuous running early in spring training.

As Girardi discussed the meeting in his post-workout interview, he was a bit surprised when his office phone rang - the same phone Joe Torre picked up so often when Steinbrenner called.

"That's the first time the phone's rang, that I know of," Girardi said. "I wouldn't really know how to answer it."

Notes: For the second straight bullpen session, RHP Joba Chamberlain made a majority of his pitches from the set position, another indication he could start the season as a reliever. ... LHP Kei Igawa was out on the field throwing early before his bullpen session. "Kei is used to something different than most of the pitchers that have pitched here, so we are trying to be flexible in the way we handle Kei Igawa," Girardi said. "Kei asked to throw a little bit more, and we're trying to adapt to his ways a little bit, as well as him adapting to our ways." ... RHPs Humberto Sanchez and Andrew Brackman are making progress in their throwing programs after elbow ligament replacement surgery last year. Sanchez made 50 throws at 90 feet, and will increase his distance to 120 feet next week. He could be ready for minor league games in May. Brackman, the Yankees' first round pick in the 2007 amateur draft, will make 50 throws at 90 feet for the first time Monday. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound right-hander from North Carolina State will not pitch this season. ... A video on a phone of Brackman being dunked on when he played college basketball made the rounds around the clubhouse. "It isn't fair," Brackman said with a smile.