A day after becoming the first candidate to interview for the Yankees’ managerial vacancy, Rob Thomson said he loved Joe Girardi — but also went out of his way to separate himself from the former skipper.
“I do know this: my strengths are my communication and my trust with the players, and because of that we can implement more things into our game,” said Thomson, who served as Girardi’s bench coach for four seasons (2008, 2015-17).
Girardi, of course, was fired after a decade at the helm — which included a 910-710 record, six playoff appearances and the 2009 World Series title — mainly due to his inability to connect and communicate with his players, according to GM Brian Cashman.
Girardi openly criticized Gary Sanchez’s defensive inadequacies, and, following his failure to challenge in Game 2 of the ALDS, Aroldis Chapman liked a social media post that called for his manager’s ouster.
“I feel like I’ve got the leadership skills to be open-minded and listen to new ideas, have an open-door policy where players and coaches can come in and not be worried about me shooing them out the door,” Thomson said. “I want to know what’s on their minds and in their hearts all the time.”
Thomson, a 54-year-old native of Canada who is known for his high baseball acumen and played minor-league ball in the Tigers’ organization, spent 5-6 hours on Wednesday in New York fielding questions from Yankees’ team brass, including Cashman, Gene Afterman, Mike Fishman, Dan Giese and Tim Naehring. The interview, Thomson said, was very thorough, but he declined to go into specifics, not wanting his competition to get any type of advantage.
Thomson has been with the organization in a variety of capacities for 28 years. He has always wanted to manage in the majors, and was “a little bit surprised” that the organization decided to move on from Girardi, “but that’s not my call.”
“I have the utmost respect for Joe,” Thomson said. “Ten years ago, he brought me onto his staff, and I will forever love him for that.”
There is no timetable for filling the position, especially since the Bombers have the only vacancy in MLB.
Rob Thomson is the first candidate to interview for the Yankees managerial opening.
(Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Sources have maintained that it is unlikely any of the members of Girardi’s coaching staff would be given serious consideration for the managerial vacancy, but Cashman would not rule anything out during his teleconference with reporters earlier this week.
Thomson had a phone interview for the Blue Jays’ managerial vacancy in October 2010, but never had a formal interview with team brass. Thomson did fill in for Girardi on an interim basis on a few occasions, including May 19 in Tampa, while the skipper was attending his oldest daughter’s high school graduation.
Thomson was asked about the failed replay challenge, and, in hindsight, what he would do differently.
His job was to get on the dugout phone with video replay monitor Brett Weber, and relay Weber’s message to Girardi.
Maybe, Thomson said, if he had kept his eye on the field instead of going to the phone right away, as usual, he would’ve noticed Sanchez’s reaction to Lonnie Chisenhall not getting hit by a pitch that should’ve went as a strike-three foul tip.
In this case, trust would’ve been key. But it was what it was.
Thomson has spoken with other teams in case it doesn’t work out, though he would like to come back, calling the organization “home.”
The Yankees will start all Monday-Thursday night games in April (seven games) at 6:35, rather than 7:05. The games will be April 5 vs. Baltimore, April 16-17 vs. Miami, April 19 vs. Toronto and April 23-25 vs. Minnesota.