TAMPA, Fla. -- David Robertson expects to succeed as Mariano Rivera's replacement, make no mistake about it. But he knows he's not going to be able to replace him, not in the strictest sense of the word.
"I don't expect to step in and be Mariano Rivera," he said Friday morning. "I'm not. Everyone knows that."
Rivera retired after last season with a trail of records, including the career saves mark (652). Robertson, 28, who has excelled as Rivera's setup man, enters 2014 with eight saves, three of them last year.
Brian Cashman has made a point of saying Robertson has not been anointed the closer and that he has to earn it. Said Robertson, "I'm going to get the opportunity and I'm going to try and run with it."
Any time he was asked about it in 2013 and during offseason appearances, Rivera gave his full endorsement of Robertson.
"It means a lot," Robertson said. "I've spent a lot of time with Mariano and I think he knows what I'm capable of and he's always told me what I'm capable of. I think I have the abilities to be the closer, it's not proven yet, but I know in my heart I can do it. I just have to go out there and prove it to myself."
Tanaka does replace Mo
The newest Yankee, Masahiro Tanaka, was a bit surprised to arrive in the Steinbrenner Field clubhouse to see he was given the locker previously occupied by Rivera.
"One of the staff members actually told me and I was like, I'm not really sure if I should be here," Tanaka said with a laugh through his translator.
He said he believes his biggest adjustment to pitching in the United States will be starting every fifth day, as opposed to once every sixth or seventh day in Japan. He's already sought out Hiroki Kuroda for advice on adjusting to MLB, as well as dealing with the constant attention from the Japanese media. Said Tanaka, "He actually told me to be myself and try not to do too much and do your own pace and you should be OK."
McCann on board
Catcher Brian McCann was the first big name to sign with the Yankees but not the last. Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Tanaka eventually followed. "I think it went great," McCann said. "It seems like every other week we were getting another great free agent."