Bernie Williams called the Yankee clubhouse on Monday to speak with manager Joe Torre. According to sources, he wanted to recover a red Swingline stapler that he felt was rightfully his. He also used the call as an opportunity to vent his feelings about locker reassignments, shedding new light on his decision to stay away from Yankee camp as a non-roster invitee.
“They moved my locker four times this year,” he griped, “And I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were merry.”
According to Newsday, Torre and longtime Yankees Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada all had kind words for Williams, who threatened to burn down the building unless they returned his Swingline, which he insists does not bind up as much as the Boston brand.
“He sounded like Bernie, God love him,” Torre said. “I told him I wish he had come to spring training, but I certainly respect what he decided to do. I just hope I can continue my relationship with Bernie. I felt over the years that we developed as close a relationship as a player-manager can have. A special relationship.”
Jeter was playful when discussing a player who had been his teammate in every one of his big-league seasons. “It was weird on the flight here [from Tampa] because Bernie used to sit behind me and play that darn guitar,” Jeter said, drawing laughs in a pregame news conference. “I didn’t have to listen to that this trip. Opening Day is special, and not hearing Bernie’s name announced is a little bit weird. It was weird at first in spring training, but we sort of got used to it.”
Later, Jeter again joked about Williams when he was asked if the phone call surprised him. “Absolutely nothing Bernie Williams could ever do would surprise me,” Jeter said. “If Bernie showed up and ran out to centerfield today, I don’t really think anybody that knew him would be surprised.”
Posada said he could sense yesterday wasn’t an easy one for Williams. “He sounded pretty positive, but Bernie is going to miss not being here more than us,” Posada said. “That’s why he called Joe. You do this for a long time and Opening Day comes around and you’re not there, it’s tough for him.”
Williams finished the conversation by complaining about a mixed drink he had ordered. “I said no salt, no salt for the margarita, but there was salt on the glass,” he said. “Big grains of salt.”
Torre later told reporters that the only reason Williams had played last year was due to a glitch in the payroll department. Apparently, Williams had been laid off after the 2005 season, but somehow kept getting paychecks. “So we just fixed the glitch,” Torre explained. “Figured the problem would take care of itself.”