Yanks have kind words for Randolph

Yanks have kind words for Randolph

NEW YORK -- During their recent road trip, the Yankees made headlines with a four-game winning streak and an injury to their ace pitcher.

But before manager Joe Girardi talked about any of that in his pregame press conference on Tuesday, he took some time to talk about Willie Randolph, who was dismissed overnight from his managerial position with the Mets.

"Your heart goes out to Willie," Girardi said. "I'm sad for Willie, because I know how hard Willie worked, and I know how bad Willie wanted it. It's very unfortunate."

The Mets may be a cross-town rival, but the Yankees spoke with compassion about Randolph, who was a staple in the Bronx clubhouse for more than 20 years.

He spent 13 seasons playing for the Yankees and was third-base coach from 1993-2003, before a one-year stint as the bench coach.

The Yankees woke up to the news of Randolph's dismissal with everyone else on Tuesday. Catcher Jorge Posada saw it on television when he got up, and shortstop Derek Jeter didn't hear about it until he was leaving his apartment around noon.

Jeter and Randolph worked together during Randolph's time as an infield coach, and Jeter said Randolph's attitude was consistently optimistic.

"He always went out of his way to be helpful, to talk to me and be positive," Jeter said. "I think that's one of the things that Willie was good for is always being positive, so he deserves a lot of credit for helping me develop."

Girardi added that Randolph has always handled himself with class, even amidst rumors and questions surrounding his job status in the past few weeks.

"I know Willie went there every day upbeat and trying to win a ballgame," he said. "I know that's Willie's personality. Maybe when he went home some nights it was unfortunate, but I know Willie was the same guy every day when he walked into that clubhouse."

Randolph's job security had been discussed for weeks prior to Mets general manager Omar Minaya's final decision. But it was the timing of the action that surprised many, as the announcement came after 3 a.m. ET.

Randolph was relieved of his duties roughly two hours after the Mets defeated the Angels, 9-6, in the first game of their seven-day road trip.

But Girardi said that kind of news is never good, regardless of when or how it happens.

"From a manager standpoint, there's no easy way for it to go down, because it's not the words that you want to hear," he said. "I can't get into other people's timing and the thought process, because you're not in that room. But from a manager standpoint, there's never a good time."

Girardi said he hadn't talked to Randolph on Tuesday, but he would reach out to him once the whirlwind has a chance to subside.

The Yankees' manager can relate to the daily pressures that Randolph faced to succeed. It's something that comes with the managerial position; past success becomes irrelevant when a team faces current struggles.

"Sometimes it's going to be tough because in this business as a player, a coach, a manager, a general manager, it's win now," Girardi said. "And we all understand that going in, and that's why we have such a passion for it every day."

Randolph's next step is uncertain. When asked about the possibility of a position for Randolph with the Bombers, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said it was not the right time to talk about it.

But team members who knew Randolph from his days with the Yankees organization have no doubt that no matter where he ends up, Randolph will be able to find success in another position, if that's what he chooses to do.

"Willie's a great baseball man," Girardi said. "I know Willie will get through this and be strong, and I believe he'll get another opportunity if he wants it."

Samantha Newman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.