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The Mo/Maddux Connection

New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera (42)

New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera (42) throws in the top of the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays. (Sept. 4, 2010) Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Kerry Wood told reporters Friday that closer Mariano Rivera most reminded him of future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux because of their calm demeanor and their effectiveness.

And manager Joe Girardi, who caught both pitchers during his 15-year career, couldn't help but agree.

“I think it’s a good comparison,” Girardi said before Game 3 of the ALDS. “Greg Maddux always knew what he wanted to do, was always prepared and was always calm and a great student of the game. I think you can say the same about Mo. Great fielder. Didn’t beat himself.”

The manager also bestowed high praise on his second baseman, Robinson Cano.

"There was a big question mark about who was going to replace [Hideki] Matsui in our lineup hitting in the fifth slot," said Girardi. "We talked about different guys that could possibly do it, and our thought process, if Robbie could do it, that is the best fit for us because you would have a switch-hitter behind him and you wouldn't have to stack left-handers. He's been tremendous.

"In Alex's absence when he has had to hit in the fourth slot, he's even been better. I talked about Robbie Cano where he's had an outstanding year and I believe he's the MVP of our league. Just because of you combine his offense and I believe gold glove defense and how he impacts the game defensively, I think he's had the best all-around year."

As for maligned starter A.J. Burnett, Girardi wouldn't disclose details on how he plans to use him, if the Yanks advance to the ALCS.

"I'll worry about the next round if we have to worry about the next round," he said. "That's kind of how I look at that. He's done his bullpens. He's done some bullpens. He did a bullpen on Monday. We had a few guys do some light sides yesterday. And I'm not sure if he was one of them. "

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