NEW YORK -- To the long list of free agents who could be appearing in their final games at Yankee Stadium tonight, include the manager. Like Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Hiroki Kuroda and a half-dozen lesser lights, Joe Girardi, too, is in the final year of his contract and when asked before the game if he thought he would be back next year, Girardi briefly lapsed into the past tense in the course of deflecting the question.
"That’s something for the offseason. Let’s get through these four days and then I can maybe start to address those questions," Girardi sad. "I’ve said it many times -- I’ve really enjoyed being here as a manager, a coach, a manager, a player, a broadcaster, I love my time here, but that’s not something that’s handled in-season, and I’ll wait til the offseason."
Girardi is in the final year of a three-year contract that pays him a reported $2.5 million a year. The Yankees went to the ALCS in the first two years of his contract, but this year will miss the playoffs for only the second time in the past 19 seasons, both times on Girardi's watch. GM Brian Cashman has said he wants Girardi back next year, but with the possibility that Dale Sveum will be fired by the Chicago Cubs, creating a vacancy at Girardi's former team and home town, the Yankees may have some competition for his services.
Girardi was asked if, like the looming free-agents, he had wondered if this would be his last game at Yankee Stadium. "I kind of did that one other time," he said. "I remember bringing my son to the ballpark here, to the old ballpark, thinking it might be my last time ever in Yankee Stadium. Lo and behold I was there a lot more years after that. So I don't necessarily think like that anymore."
-- Girardi said he thought tonight would be more difficult for Mariano Rivera than his celebration day was on Sunday. "I think it'll be more emotional for Mo tonight than it was on Sunday because we were still playing for a playoff spot," Girardi said. "You knew that we still had days left in Yankee Stadium. I think today will be a little bit different. I think that it will be tough on him."
-- Another player who may have played his last game at Yankee Stadium is Alex Rodriguez, who asked out of Wednesday night's game after telling Girardi his "legs weren't great." So the manager held him out of tonight's game. "I haven’t had a chance to talk to him, but when a guy comes out of the game the day before, the chances of my putting him in the next day probably aren’t too good. He’s been battling the calf, the hamstring, issues all year."
-- Girardi refused to address reports that the Yankees and Robinson Cano are far apart on money for a new free-agent contract after his current one runs out on Sunday. "That's not something that I discuss," he said. "You're asking me to speculate what's going to happen this winter and it doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense. I think the Yankees have shown interest in Robbie Cano. I don't think there's any doubt about that. As I've said with trades and free agency, it takes two to tango."