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Oct. 19 Joe Girardi ALCS off-day interview

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Q. When you went through the transition of moving on from Beltran and McCann and putting Judge and Sanchez in those everyday roles, what was that like? And how important have those guys been in the last two games after the start in Houston?
 

JOE GIRARDI: I think we knew it was going to happen, and it really started with Gary with the month of August and September that he had. We knew that he was going to catch more and that he was probably going to be our everyday catcher.

Aaron went through some struggles last year, and got hurt at the end of last year, but we just felt it was time to bring in some of the younger guys to see exactly what they could do to see where we were at in moving forward. And it's never easy to say good-bye to players. Brian McCann was a quality player here, a quality person, and same as Carlos, just great teammates, great to manage. And it's difficult.

But we knew that we had to make some changes and these kids have played extremely well, and been extremely important in our run.

Q. When you went through the transition of moving on from Beltran and McCann and putting Judge and Sanchez in those everyday roles, what was that like? And how important have those guys been in the last two games after the start in Houston?
 

JOE GIRARDI: I think we knew it was going to happen, and it really started with Gary with the month of August and September that he had. We knew that he was going to catch more and that he was probably going to be our everyday catcher.

Aaron went through some struggles last year, and got hurt at the end of last year, but we just felt it was time to bring in some of the younger guys to see exactly what they could do to see where we were at in moving forward. And it's never easy to say good-bye to players. Brian McCann was a quality player here, a quality person, and same as Carlos, just great teammates, great to manage. And it's difficult.

But we knew that we had to make some changes and these kids have played extremely well, and been extremely important in our run.

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Q. And then to follow up on that, the difference in their swings from the first two games to the Bronx, what's been the difference there?

 

JOE GIRARDI: I think eventually they're going to hit. I look at a number of other players that have been through playoffs, and they've had their struggles, and all of a sudden they can get hot. And I think everything is magnified when you're in the playoffs, and two games seems like forever, where if you struggle two games in the season people don't say much. But you're on the big stage and people expect you to perform every day and it's going to be talked about.

Q. I talked with Larry, I think it was before Game 4 about Dellin, and I wonder at this stage in the postseason, are you still comfortable possibly using him? And if so, would it only be in a situation where you had a comfortable lead? And also, Larry was saying that at this stage you can't leave a pitcher out there if he's going through some struggles because of the magnitude of the games. I wonder what you think about that comment.

 

JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think it's true. With the magnitude of the games you can't allow sometimes a player to work through something where you might let him do it during the course of the season. You might give him a little more rope.

Dellin we're going to use when we see fit. The game really dictates when you use people. And you can get some different situations you didn't expect to be in. So I don't know my thoughts of when I can use him. Obviously he's struggled the last couple of times. But, again, he was really pretty good in the Cleveland Series.

So again, we're trying to get him going. But I don't think you can say this is exactly when we're going to use him. I think the game always dictates that.

Q. I'm curious about Luis and the turnaround that he had after that first start. I know you had confidence in him after the start against Minnesota in the Wild Card game. Sometimes pitchers get into funks in the postseason, especially when they don't have a lot of experience. What was your level of concern, not that he wouldn't be able to get out of it, but maybe it would kind of build on itself, and whether it's people asking him about it or just the pressure of the situation, that it might snowball into struggling throughout the postseason?

 

JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, I wasn't too concerned because I've seen him do some pretty special things this year, some pretty big matchups that he's really competed in. He had the one with Corey Kluber here in late August where he had a 2-1 lead and gave up a home run and gave up another run. And I thought he learned from that.

When I look at Minnesota, I think it was emotions, and he was able to hold his emotions in the next game and then the next game. So I really expect that he's going to be able to do that. With the magnitude of this game we'll have to watch him closely.

I'm going to go back to last year. I think the struggles he went through last year has helped him overcome a bad start this year and to move forward and the adjustments he needs to make.

Q. Does it feel any different having a series lead?

 

JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, it does feel different. We've been on -- we have to win today, we can't afford to lose today for a number of reasons. But I still think the attitude will be the same, win one game. That is what we've kind of talked about, and that's kind of what we've stuck to around here, and that's what you try to do, win a game on Friday night. Again, we're facing a great pitcher and facing a great opponent. But we have to win one game and that's what we'll stick to.

Q. To follow up on Severino, was there a point this year, a game or a series of games where you said, Wow, we've really got something here?

 

JOE GIRARDI: You know, I think it was pretty early on. We saw a bunch of really good starts pretty early on. The year before he made some decent starts, but didn't get any run support and I think it frustrated, and it snowballed for him.

He was dominant early on, and he was using his change-up, fastball, he was using up and down in the zone, where a lot of times last year he was mostly up and that's when he was getting hit.

I don't know if there's one game. There's been games that he's learned, pitching in some tough games against Boston and Baltimore teams in our division, Toronto, matching up against Cleveland, there's been a number of games he's learned from, but we saw it pretty early on.

Q. During the season we heard a lot about when you had a day off coming, the day off would be good for us. Would you rather have played today than have a day off?

 

JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, I think probably everyone would have probably rather played today. We understand it. We've been on both sides. It's probably good for our bullpen to have a day off. We rely on them heavily. We got 7 great innings out of Tanaka yesterday, and used Tommy, but it allows us to probably use Tommy tomorrow if we need him. The day off will definitely help our bullpen and I think physically it helps the player. But when you're on a roll you never want to stop playing.

Q. Just wondering how meaningful is it to be in this position with the same franchise eight years later with virtually an entirely different roster, three games from that 2009 team?

 

JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, I think it's extremely meaningful. This has been a special year, and it just seems to get better and better as the year has went on. We started off great and people weren't really expecting that, and then we struggled and we seemed to find our way out of that funk and play well down the stretch. To be able to do what we've done up to this point has been great.

The energy at the stadium has been awesome, just really enjoyable. That's what I find myself taking in the most in these games is the energy at the stadium and just the memories that it brings back for me and just seeing our players go through it and being happy for them.

But, yeah, I take meaning because it has been a long time really since we got to this point. We haven't been to the American League Championship for a while. And with a completely new roster it does mean a lot.

Q. With Severino, he tells you his shoulder is fine, and the doctors check out the shoulder and say it's fine. But if he starts gesturing and shaking it about, do you react the same way you did last time or do you say, all right, this is what he does now, he's fine, let him go?

 

JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, it's probably a little bit more of that. Probably he's fine now, let him go. His bullpen was really good yesterday. I talked to Larry and said his bullpen was really good, which was encouraging. So I'd probably react a little bit different in this situation.

Q. This Yankee team has been described as easy to root for, fun to watch. What's it like coaching a Yankee team specifically being described in that way, when in years past we've had Yankee teams not described in that way?

 

JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, it's really unusual to hear a Yankee team to be described that way, but for me it's enjoyable to watch what they do and the energy that they bring every day. There's so many different people and so many different talents that we see. We see power fastballs. We see great curveballs. We see guys that have reinvented themselves. We see rookies that came up and play extremely important roles. We see guys hit the ball out of the ballpark, in the gap, run. It's really enjoyable for me to watch these guys do their work.

So from that standpoint I know what the people are talking about. And they are easy to root for. Probably because they're on my team.

Q. Having been a former catcher and managing the World Series, playing in the World Series, you have potentially Luis going into the pennant clincher. What advice do you give him?

 

JOE GIRARDI: The big thing is getting through the first inning and not being too hyped up. You have to pitch with your brain, not your arm. Because you have to be smart and you can't try to overpower through situations, because this team will turn around fastball. So he has to locate and change speeds. That's kind of the advice that I give him because I think it's natural for a kid that hits 98, the 99, that you want to overpower people. But you've got to use your brain. He knows how to do that and is very capable of doing that.