Yankees Clubhouse Notebook: One for the Road
It's Mo's final game at Yankee Stadium, and following up on his statement that "there's a good chance" Rivera would pitch tonight, manager Joe Girardi spoke at length about Rivera in his pregame press conference.
"I think it's important, I think he wants to pitch," Girardi said. "I will talk to him but my sense is he's going to want to be out there."
As emotional of a day Sunday was for Rivera, though, Girardi for one thinks tonight may be even harder.
"I think so; (Sunday) we were still playing for a playoff spot and he knew he still had days left at Yankee Stadium, but I think tonight will be a little bit different," Girardi said. "I think it will be tough on him. When you think about when you've done something for so long and then you stop, it's difficult. I remember taking off my uniform and how difficult it was, and I was at peace with my decision that it was time to go -- but baseball has been such a huge part of his life for so long, I think tonight will be difficult."
That said, Rivera, who spent much of this afternoon's clubhouse availability saying goodbye to those he won't see again, wasn't sure how today would go.
"We'll see. I can't tell you about that. It's going to be hard, but we'll see what happens," Rivera said.
Realistically, tonight could be the final game at Yankee Stadium for several key players, including Robinson Cano, who is slated to become a free agent this offseason.
"You know, every year you get close to a group of players, and it's a new group when you come back. That's a lot of times a tough part of the game, but no one knows what's going to happen in the offseason, and there are no guarantees who's going to be here next season," Girardi said. "Robby has been a joy to manage. He's a great player who does a lot of great things."
Girardi wouldn't speculate further about Cano's future, however, especially when asked about the reports that Cano could fetch somewhere up to $300 million in free agency.
"That's not something that I discuss…I'm glad I don't necessarily have to worry about that," he said. "It doesn't make sense to speculate about what's going to happen this winter; the Yankees have shown interest in Robby Cano, I don't think there's any doubt about that, but it takes two to tango."
The group of potential departures also includes Girardi, whose contract expires at the end of the season, but he also wouldn't speculate on his own future, other than intimating he wishes to remain.
"That's something for the offseason; let's get through these four days and then maybe I can start to address those questions," he said. "I've said many times, I've really enjoyed being here as a player, a coach, a manager, a broadcaster…I've loved my time, but that's not something that is handled in season."
As for the emotions of just thinking it could be farewell, Girardi explained that one day in the past shaped why he never thinks about the present in terms of finality.
"I remember bringing my son once to the old ballpark thinking it might be my last time ever at Yankee Stadium," he said, "and lo and behold, I was here a lot more years after that, so I don't necessarily think like that anymore."
As for tonight's lineup, one player who isn't in is Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod left last night's game in the seventh inning after telling Girardi "his legs weren't good," and Girardi said he had no hesitation about keeping Rodriguez out tonight.
"I didn't put him in the lineup because of yesterday, but I'll check with him (about his availability) when he gets here," Girardi said. "I haven't had a chance to talk to him, but when a guy comes out of a game the day before, the chances of me putting him in the next day probably aren't too good. He's been battling calf and hamstring issues all year, and he's still playing."
A-Rod may be out tonight, but Girardi debunked today's reports that the slugger has been given permission to not join the Yankees' final series in Houston to prepare for his suspension appeal.
"We expect him to be there, and he does not have permission to not be there," Girardi said. "We expect our players to be there if they're able-bodied."
And with that, we'll leave the last word to Girardi on someone above him: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who officially announced in a statement that he will retire following next season.
"I think the game has grown under him tremendously. He's made every effort to try to clean the game up, and we've seen a lot of things improve in the game of baseball, so he's left his mark on the game," Girardi said. "He's the one who brought the Wild Card changes in, but the hot topic right now is the PED program, so I'm sure that might be the number one thing (Selig will be remembered for)."
And as for the announcement of the end of his tenure 15 months in advance?
"Maybe he did it because he saw what Mo did, so he could have a year."