By George A. King III
If the Yankees attempted to pump life into the Yankees’ clubhouse by selecting Aaron Boone to replace Joe Girardi, they accomplished that goal with a big piece of the 2018 roster.
First baseman Greg Bird can’t wait to get to know Aaron Boone.
“I don’t have a personal relationship with him, but I am excited and everyone is excited to get to camp,’’ Bird told The Post via phone Saturday after a round of golf in Colorado. “We saw him when he did the ESPN games. He would come around and say, ‘What’s up?’ He seemed calm. I am looking forward to it. Everyone is looking forward to getting back to work. It didn’t work out the way we wanted it to last year.’’
That’s when the Yankees fell a game short of reaching the World Series for the first time since they won it in 2009.
Bird, a big part of the Yankees’ youth movement that includes Aaron Judge, Luis Severino and Gary Sanchez and might add 23-year-old Shohei Ohtani, has learned early on that things change.
“Joe was great to me. He is the only thing I know in the big leagues, but that is the nature of the business,’’ Bird said of Girardi being let go in October after 10 seasons at the perch Boone will inherit. “People move around.’’
In a day and age when the Yankees were looking for someone to communicate with people from all walks of baseball life as their manager they turned to Boone.
Never mind that Boone hasn’t been in a major league dugout since he retired following the 2009 season and his only exposure to the big leagues has been from the broadcast booth.
The Yankees selected Boone, 44, over five other candidates with an announcement expected this week.
Though nobody knows how Boone will turn out as a first-time manager handling a club that is expected to win 90-plus games and contend for a World Series title, his communication skills were easy to see 14 years ago when he was acquired from the Reds.
“When he was traded over here he impressed by how he transitioned to the clubhouse,’’ said John Flaherty, the Yankees’ backup catcher in 2003 when Boone joined the Yankees on July 31 and three months later carried them into the World Series with a Game 7, 11th-inning walkoff home run in the ALCS against Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox. “Everybody is talking about communication, well, he fit into the clubhouse easily and right away. That was pretty impressive.’’
Those who counter Boone’s lack of experience with the fact that he has been around the big leagues since he was seven when his dad, Bob, was a member of the 1980 World Series champion Phillies.
That was a team which featured hard-boiled players such as Pete Rose, Larry Bowa, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, John Vukovich, Dickie Noles and Tug McGraw with Dallas Green in charge. Those types of personalities have long vanished from baseball’s landscape.
“Looking back, no,’’ Bowa said if he ever imagined Boone becoming a big league manager. “But he has plenty of knowledge about baseball. The only drawback is that he hasn’t done anything at the major league level, but it is so much different now.’’