NEW YORK — Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn't know exactly what his New York counterpart, Yankees manager Joe Girardi, was going through Thursday after the death of Girardi's father became public.
But Showalter, whose own dad passed away shortly after Showalter was named Yankees manager more than 20 years ago, empathized with Girardi's plight over the past few days.
"Every situation is different like that. It's part of life, but you're never ready," Showalter said. "I know you see the type of man Joe is … We're at the mercy of the mothers and fathers of the world, and I know you've got a pretty good idea what Joe's dad must have been about. My dad passed away two weeks ago after I got the job [in New York] managing, and I think about him every day."
On Saturday, a day before the American League Division Series started, Girardi was about to get on a train to Baltimore when he received a phone call that his 81-year-old father, Jerry, had died.
For nearly five days he kept the news to himself, telling only a few people close to him and not addressing the subject with his team, while preparing for the Orioles.
"It's been somewhat difficult. One of the reasons I didn't say anything, I knew talking about it would make it probably even harder," said Girardi, who addressed the situation at his news conference before Thursday's Game 4. "I was handling it pretty good until I got word that it came out today a little bit. So that's made it difficult."
The funeral for Jerry Girardi, who had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for years, will be in Peoria, Ill., on Monday, which is a workout day in between Games 2 and 3 of the American League Championship Series, if the Yankees get there. Girardi said he was planning on telling the team then, so the players would know why he wasn't at the workout. Until then, he said he preferred to keep working.
"I'll be able to do my job because I know that's what [my parents] would want me to do," said Girardi, whose mother died in 1984. "When I think about it, it's the first time in 28 years that my mom and dad have seen a game together again. So they'll be watching and they'll be mad if I'm not doing my job. I know that."
The health of Girardi's father actually played a part in shaping recent Orioles' history, as well. In 2007, after Girardi had been fired by the Florida Marlins, new club president Andy MacPhail offered Girardi the Orioles' managerial job, which Dave Trembley had held on an interim basis.
But Girardi turned it down, saying that he wanted to spend time that summer with his father, who had just been diagnosed with the final stages of Alzheimer's. Girardi took the Yankees' job prior to the 2008 season. And MacPhail hired Showalter in August 2010.
Prior to Thursday's game, one of the themes of the day was whether the Orioles could bounce back from their dramatic, 3-2 loss in Game 4, when Raul Ibanez hit solo homers in the 9th and 12th innings.
"That was a tough one, no doubt about it," said Orioles left fielder Nate McLouth. "But I think kind of one of the trademarks of this team, ever since I've been here anyways, has been to move past difficult games and adverse situations like that."
McLouth was asked whether he watched replays of Ibanez's homers once he got back to the hotel, and he delivered the best deadpan line of the day.
"Well, my wife is on this trip, so I can promise you we're not watching many highlights after the game, unless they show them on the Food Network," he said.
Showalter said he had been pretty set that lefty Joe Saunders would be his Game 4 starter unless he was needed in relief on Wednesday. Still, Showalter wanted Chris Tillman to be part of the news conference Wednesday afternoon, because he thought it would be good experience for the 24-year-old right-hander. … Tillman would be a consideration for the first game of the ALCS, if the Orioles advance, Showalter said. … The Orioles were the first team since 1900 to go an entire regular season without suffering a walk-off loss. Wednesday's 12th inning defeat was the Orioles' first walk-off defeat since Sept. 23, 2011 at Detroit.