Yanks bid fond farewell to Farnsworth
Embattled veteran reliever saddened to leave New York
NEW YORK -- When Brian Cashman wrapped up his conversation with Ivan Rodriguez on Wednesday, welcoming the 14-time All-Star catcher to the Yankees family, he asked for a few minutes to tackle an even more difficult task than the deal.
Saying hello to Rodriguez meant that the Yankees' general manager would have to say goodbye to Kyle Farnsworth, who was called into manager Joe Girardi's office for an emotional conversation after the Yankees' 13-3 victory over the Orioles.
As difficult as Farnsworth's 2 1/2 seasons in New York have been, the 32-year-old reliever emerged from the meeting with his eyes glassy and his lower lip trembling. He briefly broke down in tears while discussing the trade with reporters, saying, "I had a good time here, so it's tough."
Farnsworth had been a favorite target of the Yankee Stadium boo-birds, but he had appeared to turn the tide this season, stepping up to anchor the Yankees bullpen after Joba Chamberlain made his ballyhooed transition from the setup role to the starting rotation. He said his time in New York had been "good."
"I went out there and gave it everything I had, every time I pitched," Farnsworth said. "That's all I asked myself to do."
Primarily handling eighth-inning duties after earning Girardi's trust in Spring Training, Farnsworth was 1-2 with a 3.65 ERA in 45 appearances, including a recent string of 11 consecutive scoreless appearances and a string of 28 hitless at-bats.
"He was a nice part of this family," Cashman said. "He cared and competed. He did everything we asked. Nobody worked harder than this guy, and I knew he loved being here -- despite how difficult at times it is to play in this environment. When you tell somebody you care about that they've got to go somewhere else, it's not something I enjoy at all."
Chamberlain said that the Yankees would have other options to help in the bullpen, but called Farnsworth a "weapon."
"You don't find too many of those guys, that can throw that hard and have a great slider like he has, and have been pitching as well as he has been," Chamberlain said.
Farnsworth said the trade to Detroit caught him by surprise, just as his 2005 trade from the Tigers to the Braves at the deadline had. Saying that "it's part of the game," Farnsworth said that he at least was familiar with some of the area around Comerica Park, but was sorry to be leaving his teammates, who won their 59th game on Wednesday and remain entrenched in a fight for the American League East.
"The way we've been pitching and putting it together, we've been putting on a good run," Farnsworth said.
In 181 games with the Yankees since being signed as a free agent on Dec. 2, 2005, Farnsworth compiled a 6-9 record with a 4.33 ERA. The former Tiger made 60 or more appearances in five straight seasons from 2003-07, appearing in 357 games, fifth-most in the Majors over the span.
"Kyle has never shied away from it," Cashman said. "He's always stepped up, he's taken some heat, he hears some boos, yet he's always been a standup man to fight through it. This year he's reemerged in New York, in the toughest market. I'm proud to see a player fight through stuff like that."
Farnsworth spoke to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland shortly after being told of the trade and said he plans to join the club on Friday at Tropicana Field, with Detroit playing a day game on Thursday in Cleveland.
"It's always hard, no matter what," Farnsworth said. "It's just one of those things you have to deal with. You can't change it or do anything about it. You just keep going and keep on playing."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.