Steinbrenner makes presence known
Owner chats with Yankees players, old and new, at camp
TAMPA, Fla. -- They made the trip to the fourth-floor office in waves, summoned to the executive offices where all of the Yankees' important decisions are discussed at length.
And when the door to the owner's suite swung open, they found The Boss sitting at his desk, poring over newspaper clippings. George M. Steinbrenner was in the building named for him, ready to talk some baseball.
"I thought he was good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We had a nice conversation. I asked him about his horses, and he didn't say much about them. I think right now, he's probably concerned more with the horses out here."
After the Yankees' second full-squad workout of the spring, word trickled through the clubhouse that the 78-year-old Steinbrenner was seeking company upstairs. Girardi was among the first to make the trip, heading up with captain Derek Jeter.
Alex Rodriguez concluded an interview session with reporters when a media-relations official informed him that Steinbrenner wished to speak with him, and Steinbrenner was also interested in meeting the Yankees' new acquisitions -- CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira -- face-to-face, welcoming them to the club.
Steinbrenner also spent some time chatting with a Yankee from the glory days -- Bernie Williams. The longtime center fielder checked into camp on Thursday after being offered the opportunity to use the club's complex as a training area for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, where Williams expects to represent Puerto Rico.
"Putting all the years that I've been here, this was probably one of the longest conversations I've had with him," said Williams, who estimated he spent 10 to 15 minutes with Steinbrenner.
|"I thought he was good. We had a nice conversation. I asked him about his horses, and he didn't say much about them. I think right now, he's probably concerned more with the horses out here."|
|-- Yankees manager Joe Girardi, on George M. Steinbrenner|
"We talked about the old days, about 10 years ago. He was just happy to see me, I was happy to see him. I expressed my gratitude toward him for giving me the opportunity to work out here. He said that they've missed me, and I said that I've missed the game."
Steinbrenner has slowed in recent years, ceding day-to-day control of the franchise to his sons, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner. He remains the club's principal owner and chairperson, and last March 27, the city of Tampa officially renamed Legends Field in Steinbrenner's honor.
Steinbrenner was taken from the parking lot to the stadium in a golf cart, then was transferred to a wheelchair near a bank of elevators before going up to his office.
Girardi said he spent about 10 minutes with Steinbrenner, talking about the club's roster. Girardi said that Steinbrenner asked about Sabathia and told him that he was looking forward to the year, and also inquired about the new Yankee Stadium and the last time Girardi saw the $1.5 billion facility.
Steinbrenner told Girardi that he is looking forward to the April 16 home opener against the Cleveland Indians, the first regular-season game to be played at the new Yankee Stadium. Steinbrenner told his manager that he would be in the building to watch the ceremonies.
"We think it's going to be an exciting year," Girardi said.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.