Joe Girardi's pet names for the Yankees

David Brown

If you happen to play for the New York Yankees, do not expect the manager to call you by what your parents did, or even by a widely known nickname that preceded your arrival. Joe Girardi has his own way, his own system, reporter Dan Barbarisi in the Wall Street Journal writes. All of his players — except for pitchers Cesar Cabral and Matt Thornton — have been given Girardi nicknames. And it sounds like Girardi will get to them eventually:

[M]ost hew to a fairly standard blueprint: Drop the last few letters, then add an "-ie" or "y" sound. Hence, Brett Gardner becomes "Gardy;" Alfonso Soriano is "Sori." Sometimes, there are slight variations, where the entire name is preserved. For instance, David Phelps is "Phelpsie; last season, Jayson Nix was "Nixie." But every once in a while, nickname lightning strikes and Girardi finds an unconventional one that is too good to pass up. For those, Girardi will eschew his normal scheme and embrace the new name wholeheartedly.

For example, rookie infielder Dean Anna — to coach Tony Peña, anyway — has the facial characteristics of a raccoon. Girardi agreed and now, it's Anna's nickname. "Raccoon."

"Because of the nose," Anna said. "I got a little bigger nose. I love it. It's great."

Whatever makes the boss happy. As with humans, raccoons are mischievous creatures who like to rummage through trash, but also are known to clean their food before eating it. Some of Girardi's choices seem impossibly lame and yet cool at the same time. What does he call Alex Rodriguez, heretofore known to the world as A-Rod?

"Al." Girardi calls him Al.

Derek Jeter is "Jeet." CC Sabathia gets abbreviated all of the way down to "C." (He is looking slimmer.) Mark Teixeira is "Tex" (but should be spelled "Teix.") Ivan Nova is — get ready — "Nove." He just replaces the "a" in Nova with an "e." Adam Warren is "Rocket." Is it a reference to Roger Clemens? It's not explained. And maybe there's nothing to explain. Sometimes, we just give people nicknames. But why?

Barbarisi quotes Albert Mehrabian, professor emeritus at UCLA and author of "The Name Game: The Decision that Lasts a Lifetime." He writes that, "The manager is in a way casting himself in a paternal role with warmth/affection toward his players."

For a complete list of Girardi nicknames — except for Cabral and Thornton — refer to Barbarisi's post. The best nicknames are ones for Girardi that don't exist but should.

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David Brown edits Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at and follow him on Twitter!

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