Yankees fans, Aaron Boone understands.
He feels your pain.
“We’re all bummed, especially with Opening Day coming up,” he said Monday afternoon on the YES Network. “We’re getting close to that point and all that goes into that . . . To have it pulled out from under us is difficult.”
Just under two weeks ago, the Yankees had no reason to believe they wouldn’t be in Montreal on Monday and Tuesday nights to conclude their exhibition season with two games against the Blue Jays. They certainly had no reason to think they wouldn’t be headed from there to Baltimore for the season opener, and Gerrit Cole’s Yankees debut, Thursday afternoon at Camden Yards.
None of it happened or will happen, as no one needs to be told, with the sports world and life in general put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.
And so, bummed as fans across the sport may be regarding an indefinite delay to the start of the 2020 season, Boone sees a far more significant picture.
“We also understand this is all way bigger than baseball, bigger than us, and it’s incumbent on all of us to do our part right now and try and get baseball back to us sooner rather than later,” he said. “And hopefully when we do get back and start that quest for a championship, it’ll make us even appreciate our Yankees baseball and our sports and everything we probably take for granted every now and then . . . Hopefully it makes us appreciate it that much more. But for now, do our part — stay away, stay in, stay safe and enjoy family and friends right now at the house.”
Boone, who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, and has the recently-moved-in Cole living in his neighborhood, started his drive home from Steinbrenner Field in Tampa early last Tuesday afternoon. (Boone, incidentally, filmed Cole playing catch with the pitcher’s wife, Amy, on Sunday afternoon in the couple’s backyard.)
Yankees players on the 40-man roster voted unanimously March 13 to stay in Tampa for informal workouts, but the lightning-fast nature of the crisis quickly changed that, including two of their minor- leaguers testing positive for the virus. As of Thursday, pretty much all of the players who don’t live in Tampa or have homes locally had departed.
Among the players still working out regularly at Steinbrenner Field include Giancarlo Stanton, who suffered a Grade 1 calf strain in late February, and Aaron Judge, who missed all of spring training with a right rib stress fracture and collapsed lung, with the latter disclosed publicly only last week.
Boone offered encouraging news on the recoveries of both players.
“G’s doing great,” he said. “G, probably, if we were to start spring training games tomorrow, he’d probably be ready to go.”
Boone wasn’t as specific regarding Judge but, realistically, timelines at the moment have little meaning anyway.
“One of the good things is hopefully this is a time where he can get the proper rest to allow that bone, allow that rib, to heal properly,” Boone said. “And hopefully when it is time to play ball, that Aaron’s with us.”