Aaron Boone understands the skepticism.
He’s never coached at any level. Never managed at any level.
And he just interviewed for perhaps the biggest managerial job of them all — that of the New York Yankees.
Even managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, earlier in the week at the owners’ meetings in Orlando, said a lack of managerial or coaching experience, while not necessarily a hurdle, would be a “concern” for him.
But general manager Brian Cashman, who is heading the search, said from the start that he is open to candidates across the spectrum, including ones such as Boone.
And Boone said late Friday afternoon after his interview — the first he’s ever had for a manager’s job — experience can come in different ways.
“Certainly it’s fair to question my experience in actually doing the job,” said Boone, who played for six teams in his 12-year major-league career. “But I would say in a way I’ve been preparing for this job for the last 44 years.”
It is not a stretch to say that Boone, 44, grew up with and around the game. His father, Bob, played for 19 seasons and his grandfather, Ray, played for 13 seasons in the major leagues (Bob also managed in the majors, including a stint with the Reds in which he managed Aaron). Aaron’s brother Bret had a 14-year major-league career.
“My dad was in the big leagues from the time I was born to the time I was a senior in high school, and being around great teams, great players, I’ve kind of lived this game,” said Boone, forever a part of Yankees lore because of his walk-off homer on Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield’s first pitch in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.
Cashman called Boone, a TV analyst since his retirement in 2009, a couple of weeks ago to gauge his interest in interviewing. Boone, who said he has felt a “pull” to return to the game in some capacity in recent years, pounced at the chance.
“Unequivocally my answer was yes,” Boone said. “This is a great opportunity to jump in with a team that has a lot of promise and so much potential.”
Boone said the topics he was most pressed on during the interview were analytics and establishing relationships. The latter was cited by Cashman as the primary reason Joe Girardi wasn’t retained after 10 years as manager.
“One of the big parts of the job is relationships,” Boone said. “All the information that’s now readily available . . . We are an extension of the front office and a part of the front office, and how we gather information and get it in the hands of the players is a very important part of the job nowadays.”
It’s a job that Boone, who is friendly with and has picked the brains of managers A.J. Hinch (Astros), Dave Roberts (Dodgers) and Craig Counsell (Brewers), believes he is ready to undertake.
“I feel like, in a lot of ways, as the weeks here have unfolded,” Boone said, “I feel like I am the guy that can hopefully help these guys go to another level as players.”