TAMPA, Fla. — Earlier in the day, Dellin Betances said it will be a disappointing season if the Yankees don’t win the World Series.
Music to the ears of new manager Aaron Boone.
“He’s right about the World Series, it would be a great year,” Boone said Tuesday afternoon in his spring training kickoff news conference. “We understand the expectations, and I think one of the things that’s exciting to me is to hear some of those comments [from players].”
After making it to Game 7 of the ALCS and adding Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees have a lot of hype to live up to. And so Boone’s message to his new team will be simple.
“Embrace that expectation,” Boone said. “Expect to go out there and be great. With that comes this kind of attention. We’re not going to run from that, we’re going to embrace that and we’re going to expect to be great.”
He added later: “I think what stands out being in that room is, really, each guy I’ve spoken to, the hunger is there and there’s no satisfaction with what they were able to accomplish. There’s a lot of little things that can allow you to be a championship club and those are the things we really want to dive into, especially starting here in spring training. But from what I can tell, the hunger in these guys is real.”
There are plenty of questions the Yankees must answer in camp. They must figure out who starts at second and third, with heralded rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar in the mix. Tyler Wade, solid in the field last year but not so much at the plate, will be in the mix, as will Ronald Torreyes, Jace Peterson and Danny Espinosa.
Boone said he’s not afraid of the prospect of Torres and Andujar manning second and third when the club opens the season March 29 in Toronto, though he referred to it as an “open competition.”
“There’s opportunities for a lot of guys to stake claim on a couple of really important jobs,” Boone said.
There is no question about Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton being in the lineup, but the Yankees will have to settle on a rotation in rightfield and at DH between the two. And expect some experimentation with one or both of them in left.
“Both guys are really good defenders, as well, and both are quality individuals. You can tell that it’s about winning for them and trying to chase down that championship,” Boone said. “With that comes some sacrifice and a lot of buy-in to being in some different spots and in different scenarios.”
Boone and the Yankees also will have to settle on a fifth starter. Jordan Montgomery enters camp as the favorite, but Luis Cessa and Chad Green will get a look, as will top pitching prospects Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield.
But of all the questions, the biggest ones very well may be about Boone. Though he grew up around the game, with a grandfather, Ray, who played in the majors, and a father, Bob, who played and managed in the big leagues, Aaron Boone never before managed, or coached, for that matter.
“I’m consumed with the job and being great at it,” he said. “I want to be somebody known as a smart manager who makes solid decisions and is prepared. Hopefully, I’m part of what I believe is a winning culture but also a culture where guys are at ease and are allowed to be themselves. When you walk into our room, it’s not a stressful place. It’s a place where guys are at work, but there’s a joy coming there to do their job. Hopefully, I’m part of creating that atmosphere.”