KATONAH, N.Y. – A day after an arbitrator upheld all-star Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez’s suspension for the entire 2014 season, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said that he wished steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) were never invented during an appearance at The Harvey School's Walker Center for the Arts in Katonah.
Making his first public comments on the situation since the arbitrator's decision, the Yankee player-turned-skipper told The Daily Voice Sunday that everyone wants closure to the situation. But, with Rodriguez’s lawyer expected to challenge the ruling Monday, Girardi, a resident of Purchase, said he isn’t counting his star third baseman out just yet.
“I don’t necessarily think that it’s over,” he said. “My job is to handle the players that I have, and until I’m told I don’t have someone for sure, then I’ll worry about it.”
Major League Baseball suspended Rodriguez in August for 211 games for violating its policy on performance enhancing drugs. Independent arbitrator, Fredric Horowitz, reduced that to 162 games.
Girardi’s appearance at The Harvey School is part of an ongoing series that began in November with Regis Philbin. Art Garfunkel will appear March 14 for the next installment. Sunday, more than 100 packed the private school for a meet and greet, followed by a question and answer moderated by Rye resident and 13-time Emmy Award winning sports broadcaster, Jimmy Roberts.
Sixth-grader Jimmy Norris and fifth-grader Tommy Norris only know Girardi as the Yankees’ manager. But, their father, Mike, and his high school friend Michael Altholz remembered him as the catcher of the World Series champion teams from the late 1990s.
“His triple in Game 6 of the 1996 World Series stands out for me,” Altholz said.
Jimmy is a catcher in the majors division of the Bedford Hills-Katonah Little League. His younger brother, Tommy, also plays in the league.
Girardi told Roberts that he is more concerned about the impact steroids and HGH has on kids than the MLB.
“It’s not about the records. It’s about our kids having to worry about competing on a level playing field and doing it the right way,” Girardi said. “And that scares me because there are designer steroids and HGH that they can’t detect. And those people get an unfair advantage, and I don’t want kids to ever feel the pressure of cheating.”
Not to end the evening on a sour note, the Chicago native that many attendees at Harvey called “down-to-earth” showed his comedic chops.
“But I know that I never took 'em. I did it the right way,” he said. “And if you don’t believe me, look at my numbers. I averaged two homers a year. So if I were taking them, I was really bad at it.”
If A-Rod misses the 2014 season, the Yankees will save about $24 million, opening some space for a potential deal with Japanese pitching sensation Mashiro Tanaka. Girardi told Roberts he hopes Tanaka comes to New York. The club has already acquired Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann this offseason.
Kelly Johnson, Edwardo Nunez and recent acquisition Scott Sizemore will all be part of a "platoon" approach to covering third base if Rodriguez's suspension holds, Girardi said.