2013 New York Yankees: Hard Rock Cafe Hosts Hot Stove Forum

Benjamin J. Block@BenjaminBlock21Correspondent IIFebruary 4, 2013

Left to right: Mark Feinsand, John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman.
Left to right: Mark Feinsand, John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman.

Only 150 lucky New York Yankees fans—along with the beloved N.Y. media of course—were allowed inside Times Square's Hard Rock Cafe on Monday evening for an intimate hot stove forum with general manager Brian Cashman, manager Joe Girardi and closer Mariano Rivera.

The theme of this evening was to raise money for Yankees radio producer and engineer Carlos Silva and his fight against cancer.

Cashman was in midseason form, however, as he eloquently said nothing about the hot water that Alex Rodriguez has gotten himself into, largely in part because Cashman nor anyone else in the organization has spoken with A-Rod about the allegations. 

The consensus among Yankees front office officials was that they would let Major League Baseball handle things, and the Yankees will deal with Rodriguez afterward.

Despite all the A-Rod buzz in the air, the 37-year-old problem-magnet wasn't bigger than tonight's cause.

There were an incredible array of items to be won via silent auction by the VIP guests in attendance, such as signed bats, balls and helmets by current Yankees, along with signed memorabilia from Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony.

For fans not in attendance, they can take part in an online auction at www.yankees.com/auction with a number of unique Yankees experiences and items to be won:

A half-hour instructional hitting session with Robinson Cano at Yankee Stadium, a half-hour pitching instruction from Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees bat boy/girl for a day, a meet-and-greet with Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman along and four tickets to watch the game in his private suite, New York Yankees media relations intern for a Day, and a two-night trip to Tampa, Fla, to see a 2013 Yankees spring training game.

Most importantly, all proceeds go to Silva and his battle with esophageal and stomach cancer.

Another member of the Yankees family in attendance who has been doing a different kind of battling was all-world closer Rivera. 

Mariano brought a welcomed lightheartedness and excitement to the room, as his anticipation for the 2013 season was evident.  

When asked the obvious question about reporting to spring training, he responded "I'm excited," adding "it's gonna be great."

For more assurance, Girardi chimed in, "We expect him to be ready to go."

Words like that are music to Yankees fans ears.

Girardi answered inquiring minds by saying that the starting catcher job won't be clear-cut until the team breaks camp.

The manager was also optimistic about recent acquisition Travis Hafner being very capable of handling the designator hitter role in 2013, saying "he's a guy who's been very productive as a DH."

Ultimately, the entire Yankee family—from the front office, to the manager, to the players—seemed rejuvenated and energetic about getting down to Tampa on February 12.

While no team likes to start spring training with a major distraction, Girardi is confident that A-Rod's recent brush with MLB will not divert focus from the team's quest for a 28th World Series championship.

"Our club is usually good about handling distractions," Girardi said.