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Yankees Arrive in Washington DC for Opening Day

Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, Gerrit Cole, and the 2020 New York Yankees have arrived in Washington DC ahead of opening day on Thursday night. Cashman, Boone, and Cole all met with the media upon their arrival to the states capital to talk about Opening Day and what it finally means to be here.

BRIAN CASHMAN:

Brian Cashman met with the media after arriving to Washington Wednesday morning. He began by speaking about making the 2020 roster decisions, including the exclusion of Clarke Schmidt, which surprised many that he was not on the 2020 roster. Cashman stating that he had a great spring training 1.0 and 2.0 and made a run at the roster, roster constraints were a concern to some degree as well as the inexperience he still had. Cashman stating they wanted to give Schmidt a little more time, but that the roster limitations also played a role in it for the Yankees.

2020 Opening Day is Thursday. It’s a day that many of us have longed for since baseball was shut down in March. Cashman was asked by the media what his thoughts are going into opening day and what it means for it to finally be here. Cashman stated it’s taken a lot of work by a lot of people. “I’m proud of our players and our staff and the discipline and commitment they’ve had to get us this far and I’m appreciative that we have an opportunity to do some work, where some other people are struggling to return to work or find work,” stated Cashman, who said he wants to honor Yankees fans with some great baseball and take advantage of the 60-game schedule and see if they can achieve their goal of winning a championship.

Cashman stated that it’s taken discipline and commitment to get to this point. He stated the protocols have been extensive in some ways and in other way when you’re away from the park, you have no control so to speak, so he hopes people are staying disciplined away from the field. But Cashman stated he definitely feels comfortable being a part of the Yankees and the organization, stating that he’s taking part in the every 48 hours saliva testing. He stated he thankful for Dr. Paul Lee of New York-Presbyterian Hospital who has been helping to do whatever he can to provide the Yankees with excellent health expertise.

Brian Cashman also stated that he excited about the medical and training staff changes that the Yankees made during the offseason, stating that he’s hopefully they will play a positive role and make a big impact for the organization. They are building relationships, methodology and philosophy and sharing that with the players and staff and that so far, it has been a smooth process. Cashman stated that he’s hopeful that in the next few years, the changes will pay off.

Accommodating roster spots for players who might test positive for the coronavirus is another question that was brought up by the media. The example used was Aroldis Chapman, who Brian Cashman gave an update on during his press conference Wednesday. Cashman stating that Chapman is quarantined and that everyone he was in contact with (about 15 people) were contact-traced for seven days in a row, including seven straight days of COVID testing, and they have all been cleared and were negative. The Yankees have had no outbreak as a result of Aroldis Chapman’s positive test. Chapman is quarantined at his residence in New York and has been getting repeatedly tested and has to have two more negative tests. Cashman stating it’s a waiting game for Chapman as of now.

Cashman stated that as far as the roster goes and the unknown of the virus, that this is where the depth of the Yankees’ roster comes in. Cashman stated that he’s excited about the team they have, but that already they’re not at full strength with missing their closer in Aroldis Chapman, but that this is where Zach Britton potentially comes in. “We have a lot of players on this roster who are capable of a lot of different roles,” stated Cashman. Players may be asked now to step into roles they haven’t been used to and that hopefully the depth of the roster will serve the Yankees well. The Yankees are also still waiting for Luis Cessa to get back to being game-ready and go through his build-up process ahead of rejoining the team fully.

Gerrit Cole is the Yankees’ starter for Thursday night’s matchup against the Nationals. When asked what it will mean to see Cole in a game, Cashman stated that it will be exciting and that it’s a great matchup between Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer. Cashman stating that Cole has been laser focused and relentless in terms of his training. “He’s been preapring for this day for some time and is in a position to be extremely successful,” stated Cashman. “It’ll be exciting to see him toe to rubber as a Yankee.”

Cashman was asked how this year’s roster ranks among one’s he’s seen over the years as the Yankees General Manager. Cashman stated, “This is by far the best 30-man opening day roster that I’ve ever put forth,” said a very excited and bold Brian Cashman. “It’s talented. It’s a got a great deal of talent and a lot of strengths on the offensive and defensive, and in the pitching, both starting and bullpen,” said Cashman, who says this is a team who fans should really be invested in. Cashman stating he wants to honor Yankees fans by showing them what the Yankees are capable of. Cashman stating that there’s a high level of commitment and focus that the 2020 Yankees have collectively, and that ultimately they’re trying to be the champions of the 2020 COVID-season.

Brian Cashman has stated before that the Yankee’s culture is one of patience and not over-reacting to small sample sizes. He was asked how the short season impacts the mentality & methodology of the Yankees, stating that anything that ales the Yankees needs to be addressed sooner than they would’ve had to in the past and in a way that recognizes the covid rules in play. The Yankees have to be careful how they navigate it and recognize that they’re going to have to navigate it strategically and with strategies in mind. Cashman says that the season is going to move fast and the Yankees have to be open minded to make adjustments and consider making adjustments they normally wouldn’t make. Cashman stating he’s surrounding himself with amazing scouts and analysts and personnel that is going to serve him well.

In terms of the mission of the season, Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman both stated that nothing changes and the goal is to win the season and win the World Series. Cashman stating that weight & pressure doesn’t affect the Yankees, but that they welcome it. He stated that all of their players opted in and that they are in it to win it and that’s how they’re wired. “They love to compete,” stated Cashman. In a 60-game season, rain or shine, covid or not, Cashman stated that the Yankees have a lot of people who are wired the same way who when the dust settles, they want to say they’re better than everyone else. Cashman stating that the focus, hunger, and character of the Yankees and their players is going to be a really important role for the organization in 2020.

Members of various teams have been seen kneeling for the National Anthem this week and over the past months in various sports. Cashman spoke briefly on the topic of social justice, saying that he supports the express and ability of someone to protest in the way they see fit, just as long as it’s in a legal way and a healthy way, and that there is nothing more American than expressing beliefs, stating that he just wants to make sure the players are making their decisions in a very informed way. Cashman stated he’s always created an atmosphere of open dialogue and is open to suggestions or things they can do better as an organization. He wants to empower his personnel that the organization is an open environment where you can be free to share and make suggestions as to how to better the organization as a whole.

AARON BOONE:

Yankees Manager, Aaron Boone also met with the Media on Wednesday upon arriving to an unfortunately rainy Nationals Park. When asked what his excitement is for opening day, Boone stated that he’s excited and that walking onto the train in New York today felt good. He stated it felt a lot like it would on a normal train ride, but except everyone had masks on and the food wasn’t laid out like usual. But all in all, Boone stated that it felt like a normal trip they would take on a train in any given season. Boone stating that he feels like the players are ready and that there’s an air of excitement that all the baseball world has been through the last few weeks, in particular the Yankees to get ready for opening day, Boone stated it feels like now it’s really time to start playing. Though it was rainy at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, a couple pitchers still played catch on the field before the downpour and the players hit in the cages and still got their work in. Boone stated, however, that even with not being able to get their full work in, he feels his team is ready to go, stating that the guys did a great job of keeping in shape and being ready to go when they came back to Summer Camp and that from day one, they have been hungry, in shape, and ready to work.

When asked about the roster and making the decision to keep guys or send them to Scranton, there was a lot that went into it. Boone began by speaking about Jordan Montgomery. Boone stating, he wasn’t on the initial roster just to give the Yankees roster flexibility, but that Montgomery will pitch in game six of the season. He will throw on Friday, which is the off-day to stay on schedule, and that following that he will throw on game six of the season.

The Yankees also made the decision to carry a third catcher. The Yankees kept Chris Iannetta. Boone stated that he felt the value of holding onto catching depth would be valuable to the Yankees and that it was hard to pass up with having roster flexibility.

Aaron Boone also gave an update on DJ LeMaheiu, stating his availability for Thursday is still to be determined.

When asked about going with a bullpen game for game three of the season, Boone stated that, it just happens to line up with Masahiro Tanaka’s potential return the second time through the rotation. Tanaka is at Scranton and will throw a bullpen there on what would be game three of the regular season, with hopes that five days later he can be back and on the mound for Yankees. James Paxton will be throwing Saturday. Going with a bullpen game for game three is something the Yankees feel comfortable going with for this game as they have comfort in guys who can give them multiple innings out of the bullpen.

Boone spoke on the urgency of getting a quick start this season. He stated that we live in a world where every day there’s urgency and that the Yankees play with that mindset and focus. He stated that he believes the conditions, uniqueness, and situations surrounding this season will work in the Yankees’ advantage. The coaches are confident and are confident that the players are confident that they can go out and be the best team, stating that there will be challenges along the way, but that Boone trusts that the Yankees are going to be really good at handling those challenges and using them to their advantage. Boone said he trusts in the character of his players and that they’ve been through a lot through the years and have done well when handling adversities. Boone stating this year’s a whole new level of adversities and the Yankees are cut out to handle that and are excited for the challenge.

Boone stated that though it’s only a 60-game season, that the mentality of the Yankees does not change, stating that the strength of his guys is bringing intensity, focus and neutrality to everyday so highs and lows they face don’t spill into the next day. Boone stating that the players do a great job of that. Boone stating that the guys are focused and ready and that he’s confident they’ll go out and be really good.

Boone also said that the three exhibition games were important and valuable. He sated he was happy with how competitive they felt and that there was definitely something to be learned during those games, including the players playing in front of no fans, no crowd noise and with the affects being produced into the stadium. Boone stating it was great to figure out how they eat, how they workout, and how they get ready for the game, stating that those are all valuable things to have learned the past few days.

Boone asked what he has missed most about opening day. “It’s been part of my life my entire life. It’s all I know,” stated Boone. “It’s one of the holidays of the year for my family and me, and it’s a privilege to be a part of a major league opening day,” stated Boone. Boone said that while they’re trying to out and win and get a victory, that it’s important for the organization to celebrate Thursday, a day that the sport and country have been longing for, saying it’s been a long-time coming and fans have desperately been wanting to have it back and players have been desperate to get back at it as well. Boone stating that a lot of people are going to be tuning in to watch a great matchup between two great teams.

Boone also stated that he’s excited to have Gerrit Cole on the mound, stating he’s excited that the Yankees have such a great and impactful pitcher on their team who has come in and been everything as advertised. Boone said that when you make that kind of commitment that the organization made, that it’s about being a great player, but also a player with great character and a potential to be long-term. Boone stating that they’re looking forward to Cole being able to go out and impact their team in a huge way starting Thursday and that he’s excited for him to begin his career as a Yankee.

 

GERRIT COLE:

Gerrit Cole will be the Yankees starter on Thursday night. When asked about the anticipation for Thursday, Cole stated that there’s a lot of anticipation and that the Yankees were getting settled and acclimated on Wednesday. “I’m stoked, I’m stoked. I’m having trouble sleeping already, I’m so excited,” stated Cole, who also said that there will be a lot of adrenaline for him tomorrow for personal reasons and that it’s a wonderful opportunity to lead the game into existence in the 2020 season on Thursday. Cole stating, “Me getting to be a Yankee and getting to play with these guys and watch the full potential, with everyone healthy and ready to go, we’re ready to get this season rolling,” stated Cole.

Cole was asked what he admires about the pitcher who he will be facing Thursday in Max Scherzer, stating he has a great mound presence and demeanor, and that he admires his durability and pitch-ability. Cole stating that he’s the ultimate competitor and has been a great ambassador for the game and a great leader on their team and represents the Nationals well. Cole stating that Scherzer is a true professional who gives you whatever he’s got that day for as deep and as long as he can give it to you.

When asked about the train ride experience, Cole stated it was nice to get up and walk around, versus a plane ride, and that not having the altitude variable was also nice.

Cole was asked if pitching in front of no fans is going to have an affect him, Cole stated that as much as he loves the fans and will miss performing for them, that his focus isn’t on the crowd, rather, it is on taking care of the baseball and playing a clean game. He stated that there’s so many new things this year and that he’s just excited to get the season rolling. Cole also stated that your recognize situations when the game is on the line and that those are the moments when the energy will build up naturally, and that you have to try to calm down and balance those emotions out, stating that it’s a different perspective and you have to raise awareness for that and tone it down.

Cole will be suiting up for his favorite childhood team on Thursday when he puts on the pinstripes. Cole stated that he has quite a story and that it has been an amazing journey thus far. “I’m really blessed to be here and humbled to be on this team with such great talent and a great organization,” stated Cole. He stated he’ll be able to find so much excitement and joy tomorrow because it’s the game he loves.

Cole stated that even with struggling to sleep with the built-up excitement and uniqueness of the season, that he’s trying to keep his prep and routines as typical as usual and that for him, it’s pretty typical to lose some sleep, and to be excited and have extra adrenaline. Cole stated that he’s pretty sure he’ll be able to calm down his mind and get ready for the game at some point on Wednesday and Thursday.

With the uniqueness of this season, Aaron Boone has stated and Brian Cashman agreeing, that thought he season is shorter and more of a sprint, that nothing changes for the Yankees. Cole stated that he agrees with that and that the passion is there from the players, as well as the drive and desire to win the world series. Cole stated that there will be things to adapt to and an adjustment period as the season begins, however the goal is to get the job done and that when things try to derail you, you stick to your guns and stay focused through the season. The focus doesn’t change, stated Gerrit Cole, who also stated that ‘pressure is a privilege.’ Cole stated that he’s fortunate to be here with the Yankees and is ready for whatever the season throws their way. He stated he’s excited to kick off the season and get back to baseball, and that he has more excitement than ever as the season gets under way and he is certainly privileged to be where he’s at.

Aaron Boone stated that Gerrit Cole will likely throw around 100 pitches on Thrusday, give or take depending on the game and how it goes. Cole stating that is certainly a fair number.

Opening Day is here! The Yankees will officially, finally open their 2020 regular season on Thursday night at 7:00 PM against the defending World Series Champion, Washington Nationals. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for live updates and game coverage throughout Opening Day 2020! Happy Opening Day, MLB Fans! BASEBALL IS BACK!

Written By

Alexis Farinacci is a baseball beat writer and social media editor for the Pinstriped Prospects. Follow Alexis on Twitter & Instagram: @alexisfarinacci .

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