Joe Girardi meets with George Steinbrenner for first time as New York Yankees manager

TAMPA, Fla. -- Joe Girardi was summoned upstairs for the
first time.

The new manager of the New York Yankees met Sunday with owner
George Steinbrenner, who hadn't spoken with Girardi since the
former catcher interviewed for the job last October.

"It was great to see him. He was doing well," Girardi said
after Sunday's session at Legends Field.

Girardi was accompanied by spring training instructors Goose
Gossage and Ron Guidry, coach Rob Thomson and general manager Brian
Cashman. The Yankees haven't lost any games since Girardi was
hired, so the atmosphere was jovial as Gossage and Guidry told old

"We were joking a little bit and we were laughing, so it was
good," Girardi said. "He's just encouraging us to do what we
always do here. So, Mr. Steinbrenner was great."

Steinbrenner's walk was shaky when he got out of his golf cart
with "GMS" on the front. The 77-year-old has relinquished
day-to-day oversight of the team to sons Hank and Hal, but Girardi
plans to have regular contact with the owner.

Girardi chose "27" as his number -- not the "25" he wore
during most of his time playing with the Yankees -- a message that
the goal is to win the Yankees' 27th World Series title.

"I'm thankful for what he allowed me to do, not just sitting in
this chair but as a player, as a broadcaster with the club, as a
coach," Girardi said. "Obviously you'd love to be able to repay
for what he's done for my life."

Making a rare weekend appearance at Legends Field, Steinbrenner
congratulated Gossage for his election last month to the Hall of
Fame. According to Cashman, he asked Girardi about "G.I. Joe"
headlines, referring to strenuous running early in spring training.

As Girardi discussed the meeting in his post-workout interview,
he was a bit surprised when his office phone rang -- the same phone
Joe Torre picked up so often when Steinbrenner called.

"That's the first time the phone's rang, that I know of,"
Girardi said. "I wouldn't really know how to answer it."

Game notes
For the second straight bullpen session, RHP Joba
Chamberlain made a majority of his pitches from the set position,
another indication he could start the season as a reliever. ... LHP
Kei Igawa was out on the field throwing early before his bullpen
session. "Kei is used to something different than most of the
pitchers that have pitched here, so we are trying to be flexible in
the way we handle Kei Igawa," Girardi said. "Kei asked to throw a
little bit more, and we're trying to adapt to his ways a little
bit, as well as him adapting to our ways." ... RHPs Humberto
Sanchez and Andrew Brackman are making progress in their throwing
programs after elbow ligament replacement surgery last year.
Sanchez made 50 throws at 90 feet, and will increase his distance
to 120 feet next week. He could be ready for minor league games in
May. Brackman, the Yankees' first round pick in the 2007 amateur
draft, will make 50 throws at 90 feet for the first time Monday.
The 6-foot-10, 240-pound right-hander from North Carolina State
will not pitch this season. ... A video on a phone of Brackman
being dunked on when he played college basketball made the rounds
in the clubhouse. "It isn't fair," Brackman said with a smile.