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Wood's new skipper an old friend

Wood's new skipper an old friend

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kerry Wood will not need much time to get acquainted with his new manager. In fact, Joe Girardi probably still has a pretty good idea of which pitches he'd call in certain situations.

The newest Yankee made it to Tropicana Field in time to suit up for Sunday's series finale against the Rays, trying on a road-gray No. 39 jersey before pitching an inning of scoreless relief in the Yankees' 3-0 loss. Wood was acquired from the Indians on Saturday in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.

"I played against a lot of these guys for a while, too, but definitely playing with Joe and knowing him and having a relationship there helps," said Wood, who arrived in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area on Sunday around 4 a.m. ET.

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Girardi was a catcher on Wood's Cubs teams for three seasons beginning in 2000, and he said that he knows Wood's family. Their wives are friendly as well, which should make the transition an easy one.

"He doesn't quite have the same velocity as when I caught him," Girardi said. "He maybe had a couple more miles per hour, but he'll get up to 96 [mph]. It's not like he's throwing 88. He still has a good breaking ball. I caught him as a starter, so he's a little bit different than back then, but he's still a power arm."

Wood was 1-4 with eight saves and a 6.30 ERA in 23 relief appearances during what he called an "up-and-down" season with Cleveland. He will be asked to assume the role previously held by Chan Ho Park, who was designated for assignment on Saturday.

Wood was available to pitch immediately, having been activated from the disabled list following a stint this month to heal a blister on his right index finger.

Wood pitched in four postseasons with the Cubs but never advanced further than the 2003 National League Championship Series; he is looking forward to seeing if these Yankees can make that next step and defend their World Series title.

"This is why you play the game," Wood said. "This is the atmosphere -- getting into the postseason and having a chance to win a championship. This is what it's all about."

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