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YORK -- Managing in the American League Championship Series is difficult on its own. Add a family loss to the equation, and the emotion is multiplied exponentially.
Yankees skipper Joe Girardi has certainly managed with a heavy heart this postseason. Girardi's father, Jerry, died on Oct. 6 in Metamora, Ill., at age 81, following an extended battle with advanced Alzheimer's disease. The manager will attend the funeral services in Tampico, Ill., on Monday -- an off-day after Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS were played at Yankee Stadium over the weekend.
Both the Yankees and Tigers canceled scheduled workouts at Comerica Park on Monday, making it a true off-day before the ALCS resumes of Tuesday. Girardi said his players had expressed an interest in joining him at the funeral, but he insisted that they use it as an opportunity to rest.
"I want our players to rest," Girardi said. "And I want them to enjoy their off-day and come ready to play [in Game 3] on Tuesday."
The Yankees find themselves in a 2-0 series deficit after dropping the first two games of the ALCS at home, and players admitted that an off-day will certainly help them prepare for what will be an uphill battle. But despite playing seven games in eight days, three of which went 12 innings or more, a handful of players still approached their manager about attending the funeral on Monday, to which Girardi said that using the off-day to rest would be the best option.
Though they won't be present at the funeral, the Yankees family will certainly be thinking about the skipper and his family.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family," center fielder Curtis Granderson said. "It's an unfortunate loss and obviously the timing isn't the best, but that's part of it and that's life. Baseball is a game, and life goes on -- win, lose or draw. But his family will be there for him, giving him support, and this is part of an extension of his family. We'll be out, ready to go for him on Tuesday."
Game 3 will air at 8 ET on Tuesday night on TBS and pit the Yankees' Phil Hughes against Justin Verlander of the Tigers.