Monday afternoon, new Phillies manager Joe Girardi put on red pinstripes for the first time in his career. Wearing number 25, as he did while playing for the New York Yankees, Girardi met the media and answered many questions. Here are some highlights from the press conference
1. John Kruk Once Collided with Girardi, Breaking His Nose... and Visited Him in the Hospital That Night
Girardi told a story of one of his visits to Veteran Stadium to face the Phillies. He did not have a good night. Playing catcher, Girardi was involved in a collision at home plate with none other than John Kruk. Kruk did damage.
Girardi suffered a broken nose and ended up having some back problems that would plague his season. But in the immediate aftermath, Kruk visited Girardi in the hospital. That was enough to earn Girardi's respect.
2. As Marlins Manager, Girardi asked Ryan Howard for an Autograph and the Exchange was Funny
Girardi's son was a big fan of Phillies slugger Ryan Howard in 2006 when he was managing the Marlins. So, Girardi asked the visiting clubhouse attendant to fetch him an autograph from the Phillies clubhouse.
"Tell him I'll sign it when he stops walking me," Howard said.
Girardi had an equally-fun response.
"Tell him I'll stop walking him when he stops hitting home runs off of us".
Girardi ultimately got his signed ball.
3. Analytics are Important to Girardi
Responding to a question from Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia about his analytical approach,
"I was made fun of as 'Binder Joe'. I do embrace it is important to me because numbers tell a story over time. They really do. I'm an analytical guy who has an engineering degree that loves the math, and they can never give me enough information. I think that it's a tool that we use to assess players in so many ways: One - how we get the best out of players. Two - physically: are they healthy? Number three: can you change certain things that make a player more successful? Those things all intrigue me. In reality, our goal is to get the best out of players. What ever tool we have to help us, I love it".
Philadelphia Phillies Twitter will enjoy that there was a Twitter account made in Girardi's honor, "Joe Girardi's Binder".
4. Girardi Will Work With GM Matt Klentak to Select Coaches
Girardi's former pitching coach with the New York Yankees, Larry Rothschild, was dismissed from that position, with the announcement coming just hours before Girardi took the podium. Would Rothschild be considered for the position? How will coaches be selected?
Girardi pointed out he did spend seven years with Rothschild, but emphasized that the selection of coaches would be a collaborative process between himself and general manager Matt Klentak. Girardi said they would consider "every possibility" to finish the coaching staff. Currently, the Phillies are in need of a hitting coach and a pitching coach.
5. Girardi Has a Strong Opinion of Philadelphia and the City's Passion
Girardi spoke very highly of the City of Philadelphia. "There's passion here", Girardi said without hesitation. Girardi said he saw it as a player and as a manager. Even before Girardi faced the Phillies in the 2009 World Series, he had plenty of opportunity to face the Phillies in the National League East as manager of the Miami Marlins, where he was named 2006 National League Manager of the Year.
When Girardi was first promoted to the major leagues, it was before Interleague Play and an unbalanced schedule. That meant that the Phillies and Chicago Cubs played each other much more often than they do today. Therefore, many of his early baseball memories came against the Phillies.
Girardi made his major league debut against the Phillies. Girardi got his first hit against pitcher Floyd Youmans. It was the speedy Bob Dernier whom Girardi threw out attempting to steal, the first time that happened in his career. Philadelphia was the first road trip Girardi ever took.
But Girardi could make those connections with almost every city, as he has extensive experience. But first and foremost, Girardi said emphatically that he was in town to win. The pedigree he brings should resonate with the players in the clubhouse. That seems to resonate with the fans.