NEW YORK Joe Girardi thought back to when he replaced Mike Stanley as the New York Yankees' catcher in 1996, Joe Torre's first season as manager.
"I remember walking into spring training, the first day, and people saying, 'Boy, you've got big shoes to fill,"' Girardi said Tuesday. "I thought, well, I wear a size 13."
He heard the same thing about replacing Torre, who left a formidable imprint during 12 seasons as manager, but that didn't stop Girardi.
On Tuesday, he agreed to a three-year contract and a mandate to deliver World Series championship No. 27.
"I expect to be playing in the fall classic next October. I think that's everyone's expectation," Girardi said. "I've been there some years, and I haven't been there some years, and I've broadcast there some years, and let me tell you, it's much better when you're in uniform and you're there."
Girardi's deal is worth about $7.8 million, a person familiar with the agreement said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Yankees didn't announce the details. It includes bonuses based on how far the team advances in the postseason.
Girardi was the 2006 NL Manager of the Year with Florida, plus he has a pinstriped pedigree. The hard-nosed catcher played on three Yankees teams that won the World Series, served as their bench coach under Torre in 2005 and was a TV announcer for the YES network in 2004 and this year.
New York made the playoffs in all 12 years under Torre, who won the World Series in four of his first five seasons. Girardi will have to live up to that lofty level of initial success. He follows a manager who joined the ranks for Yankees greats, including Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel.
"I don't think you can ever replace a figure because that figure is unique in his own way. What I'm going to do is I'm going to be myself," Girardi said. "And yes, are there expectations on me and, you know, the coaching staff and the players? Absolutely. The same expectations that were on Joe Torre when he came in in 1996.
"I can't be Joe Torre because I'm made up different," Girardi said. "You know, I'm a different character, so I don't really necessarily worry about replacing someone or how I'm going to replace someone. I'm more worried about just being myself and getting the most out of the guys."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was impressed by three attributes he saw in Girardi: hard work, accountability and discipline.
"He likes to compete all the time," Cashman said. "We believe he's mentally tough."