The list has been expanded to five now of those who have interviewed with GM Brian Cashman for the Yankees’ managerial opening since Joe Girardi was let go at the conclusion of the season.
Dodgers third-base coach Chris Woodward met with Cashman on Saturday, one day after former Yankee and current ESPN analyst Aaron Boone also interviewed to replace Girardi, whose contract was not renewed despite the Bombers reaching the seventh game of the ALCS in October.
Woodward, who never had interviewed previously for any big-league managerial opening, instantly drew comparisons between his 2017 team in Los Angeles and the one he hopes to manage next season in the Bronx.
“It’s very similar to L.A. actually,” Woodward said Saturday on a conference call. “There’s a lot of parallel, big-market team, a lot of expectations, young. You have a bunch of ingrown guys coming up through the minor leagues that are making impacts. You have (Aaron) Judge, and in L.A. you’ve got (Cody) Bellinger.
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“I was really proud of our guys in L.A., and this New York team, they play with a ton of energy. I love that they have fun on the field. They seem to really kind of ignite a passion in the Stadium, and obviously I would feed off of that. I love that about the game. I love the diversity of the team. The group is from all over the place and I think that’s something that’s pretty special about this.”
Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson, former Indians and Mariners manager Eric Wedge and Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens previously had undergone the interview process with Cashman, with Jerry Hairston Jr. considered another potential candidate likely to interview for the vacancy.
Cashman said earlier this week that he still hadn’t reached out to every prospective candidate expected to be granted an initial interview. In 2007, Cashman met with just three possibilities to replace Joe Torre: Girardi, Tony Pena and Don Mattingly. The Yanks ultimately chose Girardi, who won the World Series in 2009.
That was his second of 10 seasons at the helm before Cashman decided to make a change this fall, largely due to perceived communication issues involving Girardi with both players and the front office.
“I think the biggest thing with communication is to not be afraid to have tough conversations…and not being afraid of the backlash,” Woodward said. “I know when I was a player, I really admired and respected guys that were honest. I think that communication has to be consistent and it has to be constant. It can’t be just a one time thing where you tell a guy one thing and it’s a negative conversation.
“The human side of this is extremely important. I think that makes those tough conversations a lot easier to have. They’re not always going to be happy conversations, but in the end, they can respect the decision.”
The 41-year-old Woodward, who attended spring training with the Yanks in 2008 but didn’t make the big-league roster, played 11 seasons in the majors with Toronto, the Mets (2005-06), Seattle, Atlanta and Boston. He also managed New Zealand’s entry in the World Baseball Classic in 2016.
And he claims to be another strong proponent of the analytics wave Cashman and the Yankees want to continue riding with this hire and into the future.
“I think you’re a fool if you don’t understand the importance of them,” Woodward said. “I think it’s the next wave in baseball obviously taking hold. I think players are starting to understand that it is taking over the game, but it’s there to benefit them. It’s not there as an insult or something to take their place.
“Obviously, the players always are going to be No.1 in any organization. I think my message to them would be this is a way to gain an advantage. It’s going to make them more successful, which in turn, is going to make our team more successful.”
The Yanks traded pitcher Nick Rumbelow to Seattle for 21-year-old Single-A lefty JP Sears and 17-year-old righty Juan Then, who pitched in the Dominican summer league last year.
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