TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will be honoring retiring manager Cito Gaston before tonight's home finale against the Yankees and there's a large blue carpet on the field between the mound and second base with Gaston's No. 43 on it and chairs set up for the dignitaries on hand. They include Joe Carter, George Bell, Devon White and Pat Hentgen.
It's called Thank You Cito Night. The script message "Thank You Cito" is on the jumbotron, the outfield wall and the electronic marquee outside Rogers Centre. Gaston, in fact, penned a front-page thank you to the fans in today's Toronto Star.
Gaston had a 30-minute press conference prior to the game to reflect on his career and his accomplishments here. After this weekend's series in Minnesota, the 66-year-old is retiring to become a consultant for the Blue Jays.
Gaston took over as interim manager in 1989 and had no intention of staying in the job. He left in 1997 (winning two World Series along the way) and came back for two years as hitting coach (2000-01) and three more as manager (2008-10).
"I'm cool. I'm OK. This is OK," a smiling Gaston said. "It's not like I'm dead. It's just that I'm going on to do something else."
Said Yankees manager Joe Girardi: "He's someone I've looked up to and someone who's done it right for a long time."
Speaking of Girardi, remember when he said last night he might rest some of his infielders today on the turf here? No dice. They all told him they were playing. So it's Teixeira, Cano, Jeter and A-Rod in the lineup. Only Curtis Granderson has a night off.
"We're playing to win this division," Girardi said. "We'll be smart about it but we're playing to win it. I talked to them and they feel good. When you're trying to win a division, you want those guys in the lineup. ... These guys know their bodies better than I do and I'll listen to them."
Girardi said Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett will start the first two games this weekend in Boston with Sunday's starter TBA and a piecemeal bullpen game possible. Phil Hughes will pitch an inning or two in relief, probably Saturday, but CC Sabathia will not and will simply have to go on longer-than-normal rest into his first playoff start on Wednesday.
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