Even when he's far from the Bronx, taking ground balls at the team's minor league complex in Tampa, Yankees captain Derek Jeter sets the tone for the organization.
"He's excited, as we all are as a franchise, to put 2013 behind us," GM Brian Cashman said during an interview on WFAN's "Boomer & Carton" show Thursday morning.
Latest Yankees stories
Cashman's comment came a day after the Yankees signed Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka in the team's fourth high-profile deal this offseason, joining Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann.
But there were also subtractions, most prominently Robinson Cano, who signed a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners and said he "didn't feel respect" from the Yankees during the free agency process.
"This was Robbie Cano's first free agency," Cashman said. "I think that kind of explains the emotions and feelings, whether it comes out as disrespect or disappointment. I think you have to give him a break 'cause it's his first time at the altar, and boy did he do well. I think it just reflected the disappointment that we weren't agreeing on numbers."
With Cano out and Tanaka and others in, the team's roster is now largely set. But several questions persist. Such as, do the Yankees actually expect suspended third baseman Alex Rodriguez to show up at spring training. Rodriguez has said he will.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that," Cashman said. "I think what we've experienced in the last year is expect the unexpected with him."
Then there's the health of multiple players whose injuries contributed to a subpar 2013 where the Yankees went 85-77, finished in third place in the AL East and missed the playoffs for just the second time in 20 years
Jeter, hobbled by a variety of ailments that limited him to 17 games last season, has begun his normal baseball activities.
"In D.J.'s case, he's healthy, he feels good and he thinks he'll be ready to go," Cashman said. "We know what he's capable of doing when he's healthy. He's always been successful."
Mark Teixeira, who missed all but 15 games with a wrist injury, is healthy and going through the final stages and steps of his rehab.
"Might be slow out of the gate on the offensive side as he knocks out the stiffness, but he'll probably find and hit his stride by June," said Cashman. "I think you've got to give him some slack coming out of the surgery."
Righthander Michael Pineda hasn't pitched for the Yankees since he was acquired in a trade before the 2012 season because of right shoulder troubles. But he's participating in a throwing program in the Dominican Republic and has a shot to win a spot in the starting rotation. Cashman also noted that Pineda has options remaining and can be sent to the minors.
"We're hoping that we get some mileage out of Michael Pineda," Cashman said. "He was a big acquisition for us."
Speaking of big acquisitions, recent photos seeming to show a severely slimmed down CC Sabathia might be "a little deceiving," Cashman said.
"Remember that picture they had of Derek Jeter that made him look a little heavy?" Cashman said.
On the relief front, Cashman confirmed that all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera will not be unretiring, though Rivera did waiver on his departure once -- sort of.
During the summer, after Rivera had already collected numerous gifts and trophies from opposing teams celebrating his place in the history of the game, the closer called Cashman over to the batting cage with an important announcement.
"Listen, I just changed my mind, I want to come back," Cashman said Rivera told him.
Cashman said he greeted the news gleefully -- until Rivera laughed and informed him he was joking.