- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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NEW YORK -- Although Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he had no prior knowledge that pitching coach Dave Eiland would be fired following the season, a person with knowledge of the relationship between Eiland and Girardi said it went south after Eiland returned in June from his nearly month-long personal leave of absence.
The person said that, upon his return, Eiland believed his opinions were de-emphasized. It is unclear if by the end of the season if Eiland and Girardi were working better together. Neither could be reached for comment Saturday.
After the Yankees' lost in the American League Championship Series to the Texas Rangers, general manager Brian Cashman said it was his decision alone to make the change. Girardi said he had no warning that Cashman might want to make a change until the general manager told him.
"When we left [last Saturday] I talked to all my coaches ... anticipating that everyone was going to be back," Girardi said Friday. "I don't think I've ever anticipated not having my whole coaching staff back. [But] Cash felt it was important that we make a change. So I said basically, 'OK. You got to move on.' "
During the season, Eiland's absence coincided with A.J. Burnett's demise. In June, Burnett went 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA. In July, with Eiland back, Burnett was 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA.
Eiland, though, could never fully straighten out Burnett. It could be argued that the failure of Burnett was the biggest reason the Yankees are not playing right now. If Burnett didn't finish with the worst ERA for a Yankees starter in team history (5.26), then he would have won more than 10 games and lost fewer than 15.
Eiland also may have been more outspoken than the tight-lipped Girardi would have liked. For example, before Javier Vazquez's season went downhill, Eiland revealed the pitcher had a "dead arm," which is a condition the manager had not mentioned.
Often when answering questions, Eiland would point to the manager's office when there was a query that could get him in trouble.
Cashman and Girardi both have praised Eiland as a pitching coach, and have no replacement yet in mind. They are beginning the hiring process now, but ultimately they believed Eiland was no longer the right man for the job. The change became official in October, but it may have started in June.
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.