Girardi matches wits with mentor

Girardi matches wits with mentor

LOS ANGELES -- During their time together on the Yankees' bench in 2005, there were many times that Joe Girardi -- in his role as bench coach -- would lean over to Joe Torre, wondering if this was the right time for a hit-and-run or to pitch out.

Girardi said that it was like having a "real open conversation" over the course of a 162-game schedule, which he believed was beneficial as he prepared to go into managing for himself. This weekend, Girardi will get the chance to match his wits against Torre and his Dodgers.

"It's going to be interesting," Girardi said. "I used to be able to pick his brain and he'd give me the answers. Now he's not going to give me the answers. That'll be a little different for the first time."

Girardi said that he never felt like he had to be fancy to get his point across to Torre, and said he was able to be direct with his thoughts about game strategy -- two minds with National League schooling who had adapted to their surroundings.

"The great thing was, I didn't feel like I had to dance around anything I said," Girardi said. "I could just say it."

When Torre's time with the Yankees ended after the 2007 season, Girardi sought Torre's blessing to accept the contract offer he'd been given. Without needing to hear it, Girardi was told that managing the Yankees was a terrific opportunity and that he should take it.

But even into his third year and now with a World Series title under his belt, Girardi said that he wasn't fully aware of what the job entailed, even while watching Torre up close as a player and a coach.

"I don't think you ever really know what it's like to sit in that chair unless you sit in it," Girardi said. "You can imagine. I sat in his office when he had press conferences, I saw everything that he did. I saw him answer tough questions. But until you have to do it, you really don't know what it's like."

Some days, Girardi said, are easier than others -- a statement Torre would no doubt agree with after spending 12 years behind the big desk at Yankee Stadium.

"It's great to be the Yankees' manager," Girardi said. "But obviously there's a lot of attention paid to what we do on a daily basis, and you have to learn how to manage your time very well. You understand that you have to be accessible. But, I mean, it has been great."