Girardi loses Cubs leverage

Scratch one more potential distraction off the list of things that might keep Joe Girardi’s mind off his responsibilities as Yankees manager for the remainder of this postseason.

Now that the Chicago Cubs have hired Mike Quade as the man to succeed Lou Piniella as their manager, Girardi will no longer have to deal with questions regarding his interest or lack thereof in working for the organization he grew up rooting for as a kid and wound up playing seven seasons for.

“Congrats to Mike,’’ Girardi said before tonight’s ALCS Game 4 between the Yankees and Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium. “I really wasn’t worried one way or another. I’m focused on this.’’

Speculation that Girardi, whose contract to manage the Yankees runs out at the end of this year, might be wooed by the Cubs in the off-season peaked in late August when Piniella announced his retirement the same week that the Yankees travelled to Chicago to play the White Sox. One local paper ran a man’s silhouette on its back page under the headline “The Right Man For the Job.’’ The story inside revealed the man to be Girardi.

Girardi held a brief news conference at U.S. Cellular Field before the first game of the series to address the media, at which he said he was interested only in the job he already had. “Those were just some questions I had to answer,’’ he said. “I never really thought about it.’’

Today, he repeated that contention. “I only worry about now. I don’t worry about next year,’’ he said. “None of knows what life holds for us next year.’’

However, Girardi acknowledged that he and his agent, Steve Mandell, had at least a preliminary conversation about the possibility of an offer from the Cubs. “My agent and I talked about it’’ Girardi said. “and I told him. ‘I’m just gonna worry about (managing the Yankees) now.’’

Asked if he rued the loss of leverage with contract negotiations with the Yankees coming up, Girardi said, “I don’t worry about that. I’ve been extremely blessed in that area as well.’’