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Aaron Judge surprised Joe Girardi won’t be back with the Yankees

The Yankees slugger said his former manager always had his back.

Manager Joe Girardi, left, and Aaron Judge during

Manager Joe Girardi, left, and Aaron Judge during a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium on June 22, 2017. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Aaron Judge had this much in common with his former manager: They both thought Joe Girardi would be back next season.

“I was surprised,” Judge said Tuesday morning on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” “Joe’s been there for 10 years, had a winning season every year and he was my first manager. He was the one who gave me the opportunity. He always had my back through the good times and the bad times. It’s going to be tough. We’re all going to miss Joe.”

Girardi, who led the Yankees to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the eventual World Series champion Astros, was told by general manager Brian Cashman Oct. 26 that he was not wanted back in 2018.

The primary issues, Cashman said Monday during a conference call with reporters, were those of “connectivity and communication” with many of the young players in the Yankees clubhouse.

Judge, the presumed AL Rookie of the Year and a strong contender for AL MVP after hitting a rookie-record 52 homers, was not asked specifically about that Tuesday.

“I’m going to miss him but I’m a player, I’m supposed to go out there and play,” Judge said earlier in the day on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” show. “I haven't really followed too much on the manager [search] right now. We’ll see who we get. There’s a lot of candidates out there. We’ll see what happens with that.”

Girardi, during an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN Monday afternoon, had nothing but praise for Judge.

“I think he’s a young man that has a lot of confidence who has a great work ethic who does not let things get him down,” Girardi said. “If he’s 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, he believes that the next day is going to be a good day and has that ability to turn the page really well. I think the sky is the limit for him. He’s a natural-born leader. Players want to be around him. When I looked at him, I thought he was the big brother for everyone on the team.”

New York Sports