Derek Jeter said he "was caught off-guard'' by the news that Hideki Irabu, who came to the Yankees from Japan amid great fanfare in 1997, had been found dead at his home in Los Angeles on Thursday, an apparent suicide victim.
"I feel bad for him and his family,'' Jeter said.
Joe Girardi said he was "saddened by the news,'' and Jorge Posada became a little emotional remembering a teammate he said he "had gotten to know real well.''
"He was a guy that came out here with a lot riding on his shoulders and I thought he did a hell of a job for us,'' Posada said. "When he was into it he was one of the nastiest pitchers in the league.''
But Jeter and Posada preferred to talk about the Irabu they knew as their teammate for 2-1/2 seasons, during which he went 29-20 with a 4.80 ERA. "Irabu was fun,' Jeter said. "You know, he didn’t speak the language much but he knew more than he probably let you guys believe. He was fun to be around, he had a good personality.''
"He was a really good clubhouse guy,'' Posada said. "Always had a smile on his face. "Maybe the communication wasn’t always there but he was always trying to be funny. The (English) words that he knew were the funny ones.''