- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi knows how hard it is to run a team, especially one as storied as his former team, the Chicago Cubs. That's why he is hoping for the best for new Cubs manager Dale Sveum.
"I had a chance to know Dale a little bit, not a lot," Girardi told ESPNChicago.com as he watched the Michigan St.-Northwestern football game Saturday afternoon. "And obviously, he's had a number of jobs, whether it's been a third-base coach in Boston or hitting coach in Milwaukee, and he's been around the game a long time and he's a guy that has prepared himself for this opportunity and I'm happy for him."
Girardi didn't believe Sveum would have much of a problem adjusting to the culture surrounding the Cubs.
"I think he understands the Cubs' culture as much as he can as being a visiting player, or visiting coach, because he's been part of it in a sense that Milwaukee plays the Cubs 15 times a year, so he has a chance to see it," Girardi said, referring to Sveum's previous job as the Milwaukee Brewers' hitting coach. "There's things that I had to learn as a manager that you go through, but it's a pretty quick learning curve and you get thrown into it really quickly and you do the best that you can."
Girardi's name has repeatedly popped up through the years as a potential replacement on the North Side, including last month when the Cubs fired Mike Quade, but the baseball lifer insisted he was unmoved.
"I don't ever worry about that," he said. "I'm obviously happy where I'm at and New York has been outstanding for me and my family whether it was (as) a player, coach or manager. We know there are high expectations there just like anywhere else and we've started thinking about our club already and I'm looking forward to it."
Like many, Girardi is interested to see how new Cubs president -- and former Boston Red Sox general manager -- Theo Epstein will do in his first year running the team.
"He's put together good clubs," Girardi said of Epstein. "That's what he's done in Boston -- a perennial power. And I'm sure that's what he's going to try and do here. And they've done it through a number of different avenues, whether it's guys that have come through the system or free agents they've went out and signed or people that they've traded for, and that's any general manager's hope is to become a perennial power."
Girardi knows that the Red Sox will still be good, even though Epstein won't be there running the show anymore.
"They're still going to, obviously, have a qualified GM," Girardi said. "And they have a club that has deep pockets as well, and they're going to be good for years to come."
As for his own team, Girardi didn't put much stock into the rumblings that this may Mariano Rivera's last season. The Yankees' closer turns 42 on Nov. 29.
"No, not necessarily," Girardi said, when asked if he had gotten any sense this would be Rivera's final year. "I think Mo takes it year by year and, depending on how he does, that will determine when it's time for him to retire."
On a personal level, Girardi was just happy to be with his family, enjoying a football game at Northwestern, his alma mater.
"I love it," he said. "I had a chance to be an honorary captain with my son today and we're going to take a look at the campus. My kids want to see it. They've never really seen where mom and dad went to school, so we're looking forward to that as well."
Nick Friedell is a columnist and reporter for ESPNChicago.com.
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