ARLINGTON -- The hat on Brian Cashman's head was embroidered with the words "Spring Training," as sure a sign as any that the Yankees' general manager is preparing to look forward.
In the aftermath of the team's 6-1 loss in the American League Championship Series on Friday, Cashman wasted no time offering a vote of support to Joe Girardi, saying he "absolutely" wants the manager to return for the 2011 season.
Cashman also expects Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will be back in pinstripes when the Yankees report to start their mission anew in February, and he is willing to wait once again for a final answer from Andy Pettitte.
Re-signing Girardi to a new contract should be the first domino to fall. Girardi's three-year, $7.5 million deal yielded two playoff appearances and one World Series win after inheriting the manager's office from Joe Torre.
"I would think that would be the first order of business, but I haven't talked to our owners yet," Cashman said. "Once I get a chance to talk to them, we'll set up a time frame and schedule and go from there."
Girardi was in no mood to discuss his contract after the Yankees' loss, saying, "That's not a concern of mine right now."
Jeter, 36, opened the season by saying that he had never wanted to again be a free agent, but he understood the Yankees' policy of not negotiating deals in-season. His 10-year, $189 million contract is up, and Jeter will need a new pact if he is to chase his 3,000th hit in pinstripes.
"Really, I can't think about that," Jeter said. "We just lost 15 minutes ago. I'm not thinking about myself right now.
"I understand the question, but you have to understand my point of view. My point of view is, we were trying to win this game. We just lost. It'd be unfair for me to be thinking about it.
"I'm sure if you ask Andy or any of the other guys, they'd tell you the same thing. We're trying to win a game, we lost, and it feels bad."
Rivera, 40, has just completed a three-year, $45 million commitment from the Yankees. The greatest closer in postseason history, Rivera has spoken philosophically about his veteran status this year, noting that there will eventually come a day when baseball goes on without him.
While the Rangers were spraying bubbly around their clubhouse down the hall, however, Rivera wasn't interested in the topic.
"I'm going home. I'll tell you that when the time will come," Rivera said. "That I will tell you guys later on when it happens. I don't want to talk about that."
Of the likelihood of Jeter or Rivera leaving and playing for other teams, Cashman said, "I don't see that happening. This is where they belong."
Pettitte, 38, is preparing for an offseason ritual the Yankees have grown accustomed to. He will return home to Deer Park, Texas, and discuss his situation with his wife, Laura, and their sons.
"In Andy's case, usually it takes a little time," Cashman said. "We'll settle in. Lightning isn't going to strike quickly in any category, whether it's player-related or manager-related. I doubt things will move as fast as you will like them to. We'll start the process and go from there."
Pettitte has wrestled with thoughts of retirement for years, even acknowledging that last season's World Series win would have been the perfect way to go out, and this time will be no different.
"I'm just not sure," Pettitte said. "The only thing I know right now is I love taking the mound every fifth day. Unfortunately, there's a lot of stuff right now at this stage of my life that I don't like about baseball.
"Obviously, it just has to do with family. I'll just go home, let this settle in and really try not to think about this for a little while. I'll figure out what I want to do. I don't want to make any rash decisions, but I wish I knew exactly what I wanted to do right now. I just don't."
Pettitte said that, whether it's winning the World Series or losing in the ALCS, his decision is "pretty much the same."
The Yankees are still the only team he'd consider, but Pettitte has tired of spending his off-days flying to Houston to see his family for 24 hours.
"The kids are getting to an age where I want to be home," Pettitte said. "But I also know how important what I do is. I'm a man and this is my job. This is all I've ever known as an adult. I want to make sure I fully exhaust myself of this and run it out."
CC Sabathia said this week that he plans to call Pettitte and has no qualms about "begging" the veteran lefty to return for one more season. Alex Rodriguez echoed similar thoughts when asked about Girardi, Jeter and Rivera.
"I'm hoping all three are back," Rodriguez said. "Joe is a great manager and did another fantastic job. Obviously, you don't need to say anything about Mo and Jeter. Those two guys are iconic, they're good friends. I expect them both to be back."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.