Thursday, February 19, 2009
Williams prepares for WBC with Yanks
TAMPA, Fla. -- Bernie Williams felt right at home.
The former New York Yankees center fielder worked out with his old team Thursday at Steinbrenner Field as part of his preparation to join Puerto Rico's squad for next month's World Baseball Classic.
"It doesn't feel strange," Williams said while standing near his old locker. "It feels great."
Except for three games in this season's Puerto Rico winter league, Williams hasn't played since rejecting the Yankees' minor league contract offer before the start of spring training in 2007.
"I think most importantly, I was just so glad to be hanging out with the guys," Williams said. "Something I haven't done in two years."
The 40-year-old Williams might consider playing again in the majors, but it will depend on his WBC performance.
"Right now, I'm really trying to focus on the World Baseball Classic," Williams said. "From that point on, if I feel like I still have the desire, I may have to consider it seriously taking the opportunity to maybe perhaps play somewhere else."
Williams said the past two years away from the game were not a waste.
"I had an opportunity to reconnect with my family," Williams said. "After 16, 18 years of being in this kind of life, it obviously has a taken a big toll with my family relationships. So I'm still trying to reconnect with them. I think I'm in a better place right now."
Williams was en route Thursday to the Yankees' minor league complex when New York manager Joe Girardi called and offered the opportunity to practice at the big league camp.
"Obviously he's retired as a Yankees, but, you know, once you're a Yankee, you're always a Yankee," Girardi said. "We thought, you know what, it's better for you to be here, and you'll see live pitching."
Williams also spent 15 minutes talking with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who was at his office Thursday.
It's just icing on the cake, the fact that I get to work out here," Williams said. "I think everything is falling into place."