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By The Sports Xchange October 9, 2013 5:53 PM
New York Yankees' manager through the 2017 season, the team announced Wednesday.Joe Girardi signed a four-year contract reportedly worth $4 million annually to remain as the
Girardi's current deal was set to expire Nov. 1, and he had not committed to returning to the team. The Chicago Cubs were also reportedly interested in trying to lure Girardi, who was with the Cubs during part of his playing career, away from New York. Girardi, 48, has guided the Yankees to the playoffs in four of the past six seasons, including the franchise's 27th World Series title in 2009. Girardi's 564-408 (.580) winning percentage is also the highest in baseball since 2008. In 2009, Girardi became the ninth Yankees manager to win a World Series, and the youngest to do so at just 45 years old. He was still the fifth-youngest manager in the majors last season, which was expected to make him a hot commodity if his contract had elapsed. Girardi played 15 seasons in the major leagues, including as a catcher for the Cubs from 1989-92 and 2000-02. The Cubs fired manager Dale Sveum last week. Re-signing Girardi answers the first of several major questions facing the Yankees after missing the playoffs this season. Second baseman Robinson Cano is scheduled to become a free agent and third baseman Alex Rodriguez is in the appeals process following a 211-game suspension levied by Major League Baseball. Both situations need to be resolved before general manager Brian Cashman can finalize other offseason plans entering free agency. ---Cal Ripken Jr. is open to returning to baseball in some capacity, possibly as a manager, but says he hasn't been contacted about any of the current openings with major league teams. The Hall of Famer ended his playing career with the Baltimore Orioles after the 2001 season. Since he retired, he has run his own company, Ripken Baseball Inc., and worked as a baseball analyst for TBS Sports. The Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs have managerial vacancies. Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth told The Washington Post recently that he would like for Ripken to replace retired Davey Johnson in Washington. Ripken has no managerial experience, but during a 21-year playing career he played in a record 2,632 consecutive games, won two American League MVP awards, went to 19 All-Star Games and collected 3,184 hits, 431 home runs and 1,695 RBIs. ---Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers wants his pitchers to show more fight in the future. Towers told Arizona Sports 620 -- after Diamondbacks pitching coach Charles Nagy was fired -- he expects pitchers to defend teammates when necessary by throwing at opponents. Those who don't will be looking for work elsewhere. Towers emphasized that he doesn't want anyone to get hurt, but he does want a pitching coach who will inspire the staff more than Nagy did. The Diamondbacks finished with an 81-81 record this season. ---Four-time All-Star Andy Pafko, who played with Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron and was part of several memorable moments in baseball history, died on Tuesday at age 92. Pafko died of natural causes at a nursing home in Stevensville, Mich., the Associated Press first reported Wednesday. The Wisconsin native started his baseball career with the Chicago Cubs in 1943 and cracked the starting lineup the next year at age 19. In 1945, he played on the franchise's last World Series team, batting .298 with 110 RBIs during the regular season. His best years came in 1948 and 1950 when he hit .312 with 26 home runs and 101 RBIs and .304 with 36 home runs and 92 RBIs, respectively. In 1950, Pafko was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was playing left field for the Dodgers in 1951 when Bobby Thomson hit the famous three-run homer in the Polo Grounds that gave the New York Giants the National League pennant. He watched the ball sail over his head. Pafko played in the World Series the next year against the New York Yankees before he was traded to the Braves in 1953. He made it to two more World Series with Aaron and the Braves in 1957 and 1958 before he retired as a player after 17 seasons in 1959. He went on to work as a coach and manager in the Braves' organization and as a scout for the Montreal Expos before leaving baseball and eventually retiring in the 1970s.