clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The era of 'Gentle Joe?'

Joe Girardi

Cancelling a workout to take his team to a pool hall? Less running and conditioning than last season? Taking more time to build relationships with players? Trying to establish better rapport with the media?

What has happened to New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi? It seems he has gone all Tom Coughlin in his second year as Yankee skipper.

As WFAN put it, "So long GI Joe. Hello Gentle Joe."

What we have seen from Girardi thus far is nothing short of great news for the Yankees.

Through his aborted one-year stint as Florida Marlins manager and his rookie season in New York there has never been any question about Girardi's ability to run a baseball game. He does that as well as anybody.

It has been the off-the-field part of the job that has always gotten Girardi in trouble. In Florida it was relating to ownership. In New York last season it was relating to both players and the media that was his downfall.

Girardi, though, is a smart guy. Give him credit for recognizing there were things he needed to improve upon.

"Unfortunately, I had too much time to think this winter, that extra month when we would have liked to be playing, and I thought it was important that we made some adjustments," Girardi said. "The biggest one for me is working on relationships, knowing my players better this year than I did last year."

The players loved the outing, and that is also a great sign. The Yankees have long had a very corporate, business-like persona. A little team-building can't hurt.

New slugger Mark Teixeira called the event "probably the most fun I've ever had in spring training in my whole career," a sentiment Johnny Damon seemed to share.

"Today is one of those days that, as a ballplayer, you'll never forget," Damon said. "I don't think any team has ever really done this. It's a day I'll never forget. It says a lot about Joe. He knows we've been working hard and he rewarded us with a day off."

With all the distractions that forever seem to float around the Yankees, the last thing they need is the manager adding to them. Girardi did that last year.

This season, so far so good. Let's hope it stays that way.