In his 28 years in the Yankees organization, Rob Thomson has been a field coordinator, a director of player development, a special assignment instructor, a coach and manager in the minor leagues, and over the last decade the major league club’s third-base coach and bench coach.
Now, the consummate organizational man, who has operated largely in the shadows, is raising his hand for a new job: Yankees manager.
Thomson became the first candidate on what is expected to be a lengthy list to interview for the job since his old boss, Joe Girardi, was dismissed two weeks ago.
Thomson, 54, spent more than five hours on Wednesday interviewing with General Manager Brian Cashman, several of Cashman’s deputies and others in the organization. On Thursday he spoke for 20 minutes by conference call with reporters who cover the team. The Yankees plan to make each candidate they interview available in a similar manner.
Thomson has had only one other interview for a major-league manager’s position. It came with Toronto in 2010 — Thomson is Canadian — and was done over the phone. He said that he would like to stay with the Yankees organization if he did not get the manager’s job, but that he did not think the interview was just a courtesy.
“Because I’ve been here so long, I don’t think you get a free pass to interview for this job,” he said. “I think you have to have certain skills and certain things about you that pertain to the job.”
Thomson, who has not been a manager since running the Yankees’ rookie-ball club in Oneonta, N.Y., in 1995, said he believed his knowledge of the organization was an asset. But he also had to distance himself from Girardi, whom Cashman let go in large part because he saw communication shortcomings.
“I really don’t want to compare myself to Joe,” Thomson said. “I love Joe. But I do know this: My strengths are my communications and my trust with the players, and because of that trust, we can implement more things into our game, whether it be analytics or sports science. Whatever we want to do, I think can get through to the players.”
As the bench coach the last three seasons, Thomson had a variety of duties, including working with the outfielders and distributing scouting reports to players. Another of his duties was using the dugout telephone to serve as the go-between for Girardi and Brett Weber, who monitors replays for the Yankees.
Thomson accepted some of the responsibility for a replay snafu in Game 2 of the Yankees’ American League division series against the Cleveland Indians, when Girardi neglected to challenge a call that the Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall had been hit on the hand by a pitch.
Thomson said he had turned to use the phone immediately and had not seen the reaction of Chisenhall or Sanchez.
“One thing that I learned is just to take your time to the phone and always keep your eyes on the field, because Sanchy had a reaction to the play, the hitter had a reaction to the play,” Thomson said.
He added: “Maybe if I had kept my head on the field, and kind of watched the reaction, I maybe would have been able to help Joe out in that way. A lot of things to learn — just on that one play — for me.”
The Yankees announced Thursday that they were moving up start times by 30 minutes for Monday-to-Thursday home games in April. Seven games will begin at 6:35 p.m.