Yankees stars are added to mighty legacy

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NEW YORK --- The sign men were out bright and early at the Yankees minor league complex, sticking vinyl strips with a fresh, white "27" over the "26" that had been up on the board for nine, long years to mark the team's total of World Series titles.

Wind caused a few problems at the Himes complex in Tampa, Fla., but eventually the numbers were posted along with a new "2009" in what had been an open blue space below "2000."

"It's a ton of joy," manager Joe Girardi said on WFAN radio later in the day. "There's a sense of relief because you know that you could rest your mind a little bit for a while."

Turmoil and turnover ceased in Yankeeland, at least for the moment. A 7-3 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday night had brought the title back to the Bronx, etching the names of Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, CC Sabathia and others into the team's long list of champions.

"Every World Series victory is special, but this one is especially sweet coming in the first year in our new home," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "This group will become legendary -- similar to the 26 world championship teams that preceded them."

Even though the clubhouse was still wet with champagne Thursday and the triumphant parade through the Canyon of Heroes was a day away, attention already was turning to the future.

Girardi said he was likely to switch from uniform No. 27 to No. 28 next year, signifying the next quest.

But which players will the Yankees add for their title defense? Are the likes of John Lackey and Matt Holliday in the mix?

"Basically, you have got to get after it," general manager Brian Cashman said Thursday. "It pretty much comes pretty quick. I'll be in Chicago with the other GMs on Monday. Two trades already have taken place."

Matsui, the World Series MVP, is eligible for free agency, as is Andy Pettitte, who beat the Phillies in Games 3 and 6. So is Johnny Damon.

Matsui, limited to designated hitter because of bad knees, wants to return. So does Damon, bothered by leg and back pain.

The 37-year-old Pettitte needs time to decide whether to retire or return for a 16th major league season and try for a sixth World Series ring.

Girardi was especially pleased with the breakout postseason of Alex Rodriguez, who led the Yankees with a .365 average, six homers, 18 RBI, 15 runs and 12 walks.

WINNING MANAGER HAS ONE BUSY NIGHT

EASTCHESTER, New York --- New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi capped off a victorious evening by helping a car crash victim in suburban New York.

Police say Girardi pulled over to help after a woman lost control on a Westchester County highway and crashed into a wall around 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

That was just hours after Girardi's team claimed the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Girardi told WFAN-AM he was "really concerned" because of damage to her car. He said he had his wife call the emergency number, then approached the mangled vehicle.

The woman had only cuts, and Girardi talked to her until the police arrived minutes later.


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