TAMPA -- Coming back to George M. Steinbrenner Field for the first time as a big league manager brought back memories for Kevin Cash, even though he spent only one season with the Yankees' organization. And even though he played in just 10 games in 2009 for a team that went on to win the World Series.
"It was awesome," the Rays skipper said before Monday's Grapefruit League game. "You'd walk into that clubhouse every day and you're playing with future Hall of Famers, just an All -Star lineup."
Cash had surgery in July, so he didn't get in on the postseason celebrations. He did, however, get a ring.
"I wasn't part of any of the festivities in the playoffs, but I was definitely pulling for them and watching them. It was neat," he said. "I did get some jewelry. Those veteran guys, they really took care of all the younger players. You got a great appreciation for how they carried themselves with the young players, through the clubhouse and stuff. A lot is asked of that clubhouse over there, just being the Yankees, and they handled it really well."
Not surprisingly, he became a big Derek Jeter fan. He described the experience of being his teammate as being "kind of in awe, in awe of everything." And he had an opportunity to tell him the following year while with the Astros.
"I remember after I left I was with Houston," he related. "I hit a double, my first one in four months. So I was on second and Derek's out there and I told him, 'Man it was a pleasure to be around you for two months.' Just the way he carried himself, for everything he has going on in his life -- Yankees captain, Yankees shortstop, icon, face of baseball -- and the way he carried himself was remarkable. It was something I really paid attention to."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.