TAMPA, Fla. — The healing, Joe Girardi said, took a bit longer than he initially let on.
After being let go by the Yankees following their seven-game loss to the Astros in the 2017 ALCS, Girardi stayed around the game, making a smooth transition to MLB Network as an analyst.
But though it didn’t show, Girardi still felt the sting of suddenly being removed from a job he held for 10 years and expected to be back for an 11th.
So did it take him more than a year to get over it?
“Oh yeah,” Girardi said Wednesday night before the Phillies, his new team, played his former one at Steinbrenner Field. “It was hard for me. It was an emotional time for me. There’s a lot of things that you think about.”
Asked why, Girardi didn’t hold back.
“I had given a lot to the Yankees in the 10 years I was there,” he said. “I put my heart and soul into it, and I thought I was going to be back, and I was looking forward to it. We went through some years that were kind of lean, we were transitioning with some older players, and it was finally like (in 2017) the young guys had arrived and you knew that they had a run (of success) for a long time coming and I was looking forward to that.”
A visit to Girardi’s home in Westchester after the 2018 season by the man who removed him the previous offseason, Yankees GM Brian Cashman, finally allowed the most important healing to take place.
“We had a nice talk,” said Girardi, who arrived in the tunnel near the visitor’s clubhouse here and exchanged hugs with three of his former pitchers who happened to be walking by — Tommy Kahnle, Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green. “It was good. It was really good.”
Girardi went 910-710 in 10 seasons (2008-2017) with the Yankees, winning the World Series in 2009, the most recent of the franchise’s 27 titles.
“He's a great manager, he was a great Yankee, and we were lucky to have him for as long as we did,” Cashman said.
Of the meeting at Girardi’s house, Cashman said: “I would say we're in a good place. I've got a great deal of respect (for him). We had a lot of winning together. He's won championships here as a player, he won a championship as a manager. But he's even that much better of a person. Bottom line is, it’s all good.”
Between Girardi and his successor, too.
Not that there was anything negative to their relationship; they simply didn’t have any because “our paths never really crossed in the game,” Girardi said.
And so Girardi was a bit surprised a little over a month ago when he saw Boone had reached out and left a message.
“I’m thinking, ‘I wonder what this is about,’ ” Girardi said.
Turns out Boone, who won 100 games in his first season and 103 in his second, doing so with a lot of the young talent that started to blossom under Girardi, wanted to say thank you.
“Part of the reason I walked into such a good situation is because of what Joe was able to do here and kind of the foundation that he laid,” Boone said. “I think he’s a big reason why I was able to walk in here and kind of hit the ground running. For me he was a really good guy to follow.”
Girardi was touched by the gesture.
“He’s obviously really happy with his team, but we helped raise some of those kids and he just basically told me I did a good job,” Girardi said. “I thought it was really big of him to make that call. I was not expecting it. It was really nice.”