The Yankees’ team bus was on the Henry Hudson Parkway last Saturday when Joe Girardi’s phone rang. After deteriorating from Alzheimer’s disease since the 1990s, his father had died in Illinois.
“I had tears in my eyes on the bus, so I put some sunglasses on,” the manager said Thursday, struggling not to cry, “and (did) probably what a lot of men do when they go through difficult and sad times, we try to stay busy. That’s what we do. And I tried to focus.”
For five days, Girardi did not disclose his dad’s death to players, preferring not to talk about it and not wanting to distract his team. Jerry Girardi, who was 81, will be buried in Tampico, Ill., next Monday – an off day in the AL championship series.
“I was going to tell them, you know, God willing we get into the next round, that I was going to the funeral on Monday and I wouldn’t be at the workout,” he said. “That’s when I was going to tell them.”
Not managing for a night never entered his mind, not last weekend, not now.
“The one thing that both of them (his mother and father), besides many other things that they taught me, was always to finish the job at hand,” Girardi said.
It was as difficult a pregame news conference as there can be. A night earlier, Girardi made the toughest decision of his six years as a major league manager. With the Yankees trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning, he pinch hit for slumping Alex Rodriguez, baseball’s most expensive player. Raul Ibañez batted for A-Rod and not only hit a tying home run, he went on to hit a winning homer in the 12th to give New York a 3-2 victory.
“He would have been extremely proud and probably told all his buddies,” Girardi said of his dad.
RED SOX SEARCH
The Red Sox will start their search for a new manager with Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach.
Boston spokeswoman Pam Kenn confirmed that Wallach will be interviewed today.
The Red Sox are also known to be interested in current Blue Jays manager and former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. Other names mentioned as part of the search to replace Bobby Valentine include former San Diego Padres catcher Brad Ausmus and Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo.
Valentine was fired after one season in which he finished last with an injury-depleted roster.
Wallach, 55, is a former All-Star third baseman. He managed the Dodgers’ Triple-A team for two seasons while also working in Los Angeles as a hitting coach.
Indians outfielder Michael Brantley had successful surgery to repair a sports hernia. The Indians said Brantley had the operation in Philadelphia and the procedure took 24 minutes to complete. Brantley is expected to need between three and six weeks to recover. … Former major league player John “Champ” Summers died in north Florida. He was 66. Starting in 1974, Summers played 10 seasons in the majors for the Tigers, Athletics, Cubs, Reds, Giants and Padres. He later spent time as a hitting coach for the Yankees. Summers finished his big league career with a .255 batting average, 54 home runs and 218 RBI.