Former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera didn’t think his ex-club would be searching for a new skipper so soon.
Rivera, who sits atop MLB’s all-time saves list with 652, admitted to the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff and Kevin Kernan that he was caught off guard by the Yankees’ decision to not renew the contract of former teammate and manager Joe Girardi.
“I was surprised (by the Yankees’ dismissal of Girardi),” Rivera said. “I definitely was surprised, especially (since) Joe did a great job managing the team for so many years and especially this year.
“But it’s a business. I wish the best to Joe, my friend, my manager, my teammate. The New York Yankees, the organization, I always will be a Yankee. I know the Yankees will try to get the best manager who’s going to bring the championship back home.”
Girardi was one of Rivera’s most familiar batterymates during the closer’s 19-year career, catching him for 717 plate appearances, second only to his 2,559 plate appearances with Jorge Posada, courtesy of Baseball Reference. His connection with Girardi continued to strengthen even after the backstop’s playing career ended, as Girardi went on to manage Rivera for six seasons, including his final season in 2013.
That’s why former teammate Mark Teixeira’s assertions that Girardi’s intensity cost him his job are amiss to Rivera, who remembers the manager treating all of his players as equals.
“I think that Joe was fair to everybody. To the youngsters and obviously to the veterans,” Rivera told Davidoff and Kernan. “The veterans would be the ones who would help you to guide all these youngsters. That’s the reason sometimes managers have a greater relationship with the old guys than with the youngsters.
“That doesn’t mean that Joe put the youngsters to the side. He was always there for them. I was a witness of that. He definitely was great.”