TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter trudged into the Yankees clubhouse during the sixth inning of a recent exhibition game, his face streaked with sweat and his uniform caked with dirt.
In most years and in most spring training camps, Jeter's day would have been done. But not this year. Not in this camp.
"Gotta go do my running," Jeter said as he tossed a half-empty water bottle into his locker before following teammates Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano to a back field for another conditioning session.
For the first time in 13 years, the Yankees are preparing for a season with someone other than Joe Torre as their manager. And the contrast is stark.
Where Torre, hobbled by a bad knee, spent much of last spring riding around in a golf cart, the tireless Joe Girardi bounces from place to place like a fourth grader.
Where Torre once left the clubhouse to his players, Girardi spends as much time there as anyone on the roster, slapping backs and trading smiles.
And where the Yankees in their last year under Torre were in such poor shape they fired their conditioning coordinator two months into the season, under Girardi they've been running as much as some Olympic sprinters.
The Yankees might be outplayed this season. But Girardi is making sure they won't be outworked.
"He's a hands-on guy," said catcher Jorge Posada, who, like Jeter, closer Mariano Rivera and three other Yankees starters, has never played a full major league season with any manager other than Torre. "And he's a very prepared person. He's not going to lose any games because he's not prepared."
What Girardi says he isn't prepared to do, however, is replace a legend -- especially one such as Torre, who averaged a baseball-best 98 wins a season and won four World Series titles during his 12 years with the Yankees.
"When you walk into this office, for a while it was kind of a little different because it was Joe's office," Girardi said from behind the same desk Torre used. "It's been a little bit different when you walk in here.
"But you just try to be your own person. I've got to be who I am. And that's all I can do."
Not that he needed much of an introduction. Girardi, an All-Star and three-time World Series champion during his 15-year major league career as a catcher, spent seven seasons with Torre in New York -- four as a player, two as a broadcaster and one as bench coach. In between he spent one eventful season managing the Florida Marlins, taking a team with 22 rookies and a payroll of less than $15 million to the verge of a playoff berth and winning the National League's manager-of-the-year award.
And despite losing his job in a spat with the front office, he earned his players' respect.
"He was a cool cat. Straightforward," said Houston Astros outfielder Reggie Abercrombie, who played for Girardi in Florida. "We loved to play for him. We were mad when he left.
"He's not going to change for the Yankees."
Marlins catcher Matt Treanor agreed.
"Joe's philosophies and the way he goes about his business are unwavering," he said. "Joe is Joe. Take it or leave it. He believes in his philosophy."
Yet Bobby Meacham, Girardi's third base coach in Florida and again with the Yankees, said that 2006 season was a learning experience. As a result, he says, Girardi appears to have mellowed a bit.
"Just being a manager for the first time you realize there's more to it than you really thought," Meacham said. "I think he learned it's not just the clubhouse and the players and getting the best drills or the best workout. But it's also communicating and dealing with what the people in the front office would like to see. How would you know that unless you've done it?"
With the Marlins, the aggressive Girardi had little patience for anything that interfered with managing the team -- whether it was talking to the media, greeting fans or, sometimes, sleeping. This spring he has welcomed the distractions, even going to dinner with Yankees beat writers during the second week of camp. And before a game last weekend he spent most of batting practice with a 10-year-old Connecticut boy about to undergo life-threatening surgery.
But Girardi also is well aware of what's demanded of a Yankees manager, even one managing a team in transition.
Torre, after all, made the playoffs in each of his 12 seasons in the Bronx but was let go after going seven years without a World Series championship.
So Girardi put the bull's-eye on his back, taking uniform No. 27 in recognition of the fact the Yankees are chasing their 27th title this season.
"Joe, believe me, does not want to just get to the playoffs," Meacham said. "We want to win the whole thing. We want to be the last one standing."
Torre eventually signed with the Dodgers while Girardi so impressed the Yankees in his 10-hour interview they offered him his former boss' old job after talking seriously with only two other candidates.