New York Yankees spring training has officially begun. Pitchers and catchers have reported to the Yankees spring training home at Steinbrenner Feild in Tampa, bringing a lot of excitement to camp. New Yankees skipper Aaron Boone had the opportunities to sit down with members of the media to discuss his first season as a manager, as well as the expectations that the Yankees are facing this season. Here are the five key takeaways we got from his first spring training comments.
1. It’s a new challenge
He wants to be great and accepts the challenges that come with the job. He added that it was “surreal and special getting the lay of the land” and that “now is the time” to win.
“We understand the expectations,” Boone said, and it is exciting to hear the positive comments from players alluding to a World Series or bust year.
Also, he has already noticed two important things “the hunger in these guys is real” and recognized that there are “high character, good people” in this organization.
When talking about in-game decision making Boone has said that he has already gotten to work on that by studying the roster and familiarizing himself with each player’s strength and weakness. He’s begun to develop game plans and said the more prepared, and the more you know your guys, the better you are. He also said that he wants his players to “be great” and “embrace the expectations….We aren’t going to run from the hype”.
2. Spring will focus on individuals
He gets it. When asked what his biggest challenge in spring training is, he responded it’s getting everyone “ready to play.”
Boone followed this up by adding that this means something “different for each guy” and while there is a “team concept” it’s his job to “get individuals ready” and that “looks a little bit different for everyone.”
When asked about the contact he has had with players, Boone responded he’s had “a lot,” and there are “very few guys” that he hasn’t spoken to, texted, or met with. He said, “I feel like we’re off to a pretty good start… I feel like we’re in a really good place”. Boone alluded to having dinners, hotel meetings, playing golf, amongst other ways he’s reached out to players.
3. Rothschild role
Larry Rothschild will have a significant role on Boone’s staff. When asked how much are you going to rely on Larry, Aaron responded “a lot.”
He went on to add that when he was interviewing he was already aware that the veteran pitching coach was already on the staff and that put him at ease due to the “respect” he has for Rothschild. He even went as far as saying that it’s incredible to have “the opportunity just to work with him.”
Boone admitted at first he will “do a lot of listening.” There is no question that Larry is passionate and good at what he does, is organized and that Boone will be “leaning on him a ton,” and “respect(s) his expertise and ability.”
4. Rookie infielders
The Second and Third Base voids are “opportunities to stake a claim on really important jobs.” He mentioned Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, and Miguel Andujar as candidates that have an opportunity to win starting roles against a group of “veteran guys” in “open competition.” He added there is no frontrunner or favorites in camp; it will go to the guy who wins the job by playing the best this spring but did mention that all three named guys could be potential impact players for the team and that it’s a “real possibility” that two rookies could start at second and third base.
5. The big guns
He doesn’t know yet how he will play Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. After saying that Judge is “doing well” after his offseason shoulder surgery, Boone added that both players are “good defenders,” “quality individuals,” and that “it’s about winning for them (and) with that comes sacrifice and they buy into the process.”
The new manager stated that there is no set role for either All-Star and that “will come to fruition over spring training.”
6. Defining his reputation and creating a winning culture
When asked what kind of reputation do you want to have, Boone, joked “hopefully a good one.” He went on to say, “I want to be somebody that is known as a smart manager that makes solid decisions and that is prepared, but also one that when you walk into our clubhouse that hopefully, I am apart of what I believe is a winning culture, but also a culture where guys are at ease, where guys are allowed to be themselves, where when you walk into our room, its not a stressful place… hopefully I am apart of creating that atmosphere.”
Boone was hired for these exact reasons. His predecessor Joe Girardi seemed to lose the clubhouse and was too tense at times.
7. Non-committal to a centerfielder
When asked about Aaron Hicks, Boone said “I just saw him, he’s in great shape. I think he’s really confident, and I think one of those guys who is really hungry to prove that not only last year was his kind of coming of age a little bit but also that there’s more to come… With that said, it’s a long season and a long spring training, and we feel like Jacoby Ellsbury has a lot of good baseball left in him so that will also be something that plays itself out.”
Don’t read into that too much that is Boone’s way of massaging Ellsbury’s ego and fueling Hicks’ fire to be the guy in 2018.
8. Constructing a line-up
Yes, Aaron Boone will work with Brian Cashman and his front office staff on putting together the daily line-ups based off of analytics and match-ups. Boone subtlety acknowledged that guys would be asked to be “flexible” when he received a question about how he will go about what he will post the starting nine come the regular season.
9. Won’t micromanage his coaching staff
To sum this up, Boone boldly said “I think we have really impactful people in that (coaches) room…I believe that staff that we have put in place are going to be hugely impactful with their particular (area)…I feel so confident in who they are and their ability to impact guys, that there going to have the freedom to really breathe into these guys and coach them up”.
10. What’s a goal Boone has for this 2018 squad?
“Win the last game” Boone replied quickly with a smile. He continued to say “Look, I want us to get better and hopefully myself in a small way, our staff, front office, people that are impacting our players, hopefully, we’re getting our players better, and were apart of that. We want to continue to help our players achieve their best. The one thing we do care about is winning, and that will always be the driving forces. We want to win”.
What to watch for tomorrow: