On WFAN: Girardi Reflects On Careers Of Rivera, Mussina

Mike's On
January 23, 2019 - 4:27 pm
Feb 25, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) speaks with Mariano Rivera during morning workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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By WFAN.com

Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi joined Mike’s On during Wednesday afternoon to discuss the elections of Mariano Rivera and Mike Mussina to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rivera became the first player in history to receive 100 percent of the vote. The legendary closer finished a 19-year career with 652 saves, 13 All-Star Game appearances, while helping the Yankees to five World Series titles.

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“Having a chance to play with Mo and catch him when he kind of burst on the scene in 1996 was extremely enjoyable for me,” Girardi said. “Then finishing up being able to manage as I call him in the interview I did – probably as close to a perfect player as you can have was great.”

Girardi had a unique perspective on Rivera’s development seeing him rise from a young setup man to the most celebrated closer of his era.

“Well, I think from the beginning, he burst onto the scene as a dominant pitcher like he was all the way throughout,” Girardi said. “I think the maturation was in his leadership skills and how he took control of a bullpen and continued to help player, after player, after player develop. Helping David Robertson become a closer, knowing that he would possibly turn it over to him. That was the maturation you saw in Mo. When I think about Mo, I think he knew his body as well as any other player. There was never any wasted throws. He would get ready with eight pitches in the bullpen – sometimes as little as five and then go finish his other eight and he was so efficient on the mound that it allowed him to be extremely durable.”

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Mussina received 76.7 percent of the votes. He pitched in five All-Star Games during a 18-year career. He won 270 games and was a seven-time Gold Glove winner.

“He continually just competed, and competed, and competed and worked,” Girardi said. “He just mastered his craft pitching in the American League East. 270 wins – that’s amazing and in this day and age, it’s really amazing.”

“He was a joy to manage,” Girardi continued. “I never worried about Mike. I always knew he was prepared. I think the young players can learn a lot from him about the way he went about his business and how he prepared for each start. He did his own homework on how to get hitters out. I think he understood his stuff better than any of us. He is more than deserving.”