Girardi first to interview with Yanks
Former catcher was Manager of the Year in '06 with Marlins
NEW YORK -- The Yankees opened their managerial search as Joe Girardi went through a six-hour interview on Monday, beginning the organization's hunt for the right person to fill Joe Torre's shoes.
Girardi met with a battery of team officials for three hours at Legends Field before traveling to meet with George Steinbrenner and his sons, Hal and Hank, at the owner's Tampa, Fla., home.
Girardi characterized the experience as "comfortable." The owner, continuing tradition from Girardi's days as a hard-nosed catcher with the Yankees from 1996 through 1999, greeted his former backstop by ribbing him about his affection for Northwestern football, drawing laughs.
"There was nothing awkward because of the relationships in the past," Girardi said. "I thought I was received very well."
Through a team spokesman, general manager Brian Cashman said that he will not comment on the managerial process until it is complete. While Girardi did not want to speak to specific questions asked, he said his feelings leaving the interview were good.
The 2006 National League Manager of the Year, Girardi guided the overachieving Florida Marlins to 78 victories and kept his club in the Wild Card race into the season's final week. He said accepting the Yankees job -- if offered -- would present a new set of circumstances.
"I think every managing job is different, because of players and all the parts," Girardi said. "Everyone changes. It's different people and different situations, with different expectations.
"I think every job that you take is different, and I believe that every year is different, because the people are going to change. The idea is still to win a World Series and to win ballgames."
Girardi, 43, spent the 2007 season as a broadcaster with the YES Network. A catcher for 15 seasons in the Major Leagues, Girardi also spent the 2005 season as Torre's bench coach before accepting the Marlins job.
While saying he was uncomfortable bragging about himself, Girardi listed his attitude and an expectation of winning as two of his strongest traits for the job. He added that his year behind the microphone for the Yankees' cable network had expanded his views somewhat.
"The greatest thing about being a broadcaster is that you see the game a little bit different," Girardi said. "You have a much better understanding of the media than you do as a player, and even a different understanding as a manager. You just understand how it works more."
That may play into hand with Girardi's past experiences with the Marlins, where his biggest problems came off the field. Girardi was dismissed after the season after he experienced internal disputes with club management, including owner Jeffrey Loria, and left the organization after completing just one season of a three-year contract signed on Oct. 19, 2005.
He has since declined to comment specifically on his Marlins experience.
"I have learned a lot, I will put it to you that way," Girardi said.
Girardi's expected managerial interview on Monday was his first since he passed on the Baltimore Orioles vacancy in June, when Sam Perlozzo was dismissed. At the time, Girardi declined the offer to manage the Orioles, saying that the timing was "not right."
On a conference call with reporters on Monday, Girardi revealed that one of the reasons he turned down the Baltimore job was that his father, Gerald, had fallen into ill health. Instead of assuming the Orioles managerial post in mid-summer, Girardi selected family.
But, Girardi said, "It is much different for me now."
Girardi downplayed the concern that, if he becomes the Yankees manager, he would be managing players with whom he played during his tenure in pinstripes -- most notably Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte as well as free agents Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, should they re-sign with New York.
Girardi pointed out that he managed reliever Joe Borowski, a former batterymate, in Florida last season, with no issues.
"I don't think it's odd," Girardi said. "I think the players know what I'm about, and I know what the players are about."
The Yankees will continue the first round of their managerial search this week. Bench coach Don Mattingly is expected to be the team's second official interview, taking place on Tuesday in Tampa, and first-base coach Tony Pena has been tapped as a third candidate.
Girardi said that he is not troubled by public perception that, at this early stage, he may already be running behind Mattingly in contention for the position.
"I choose not to place odds on anyone or to think that one person has an advantage over another," Girardi said. "I tend to just worry about my interview and my style, and my own backyard."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.