TAMPA, Fla. -- One of Aaron Boone's so-called "bumper stickers" throughout his first spring as the Yankees' manager was that he wanted players to carry an "expectation of greatness." Having steered that club to 100 wins and the playoffs, he believes that the 2019 edition will be even more successful."On
TAMPA, Fla. -- One of Aaron Boone's so-called "bumper stickers" throughout his first spring as the Yankees' manager was that he wanted players to carry an "expectation of greatness." Having steered that club to 100 wins and the playoffs, he believes that the 2019 edition will be even more successful.
"On paper, our rotation and even our bullpen feels a little bit stronger as we sit here today," Boone said. "In a lot of ways, the talk about it is cheap. We have tremendous expectations, and I think we rightfully have those expectations. Now we've got to go out and do it."
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As Yankees pitchers and catchers reported to George M. Steinbrenner Field on a rainy Wednesday morning, Boone said that he anticipates that his second camp at the helm will look much like the first, though he acknowledged greater comfort with the organization as he enters his sophomore campaign.
"I certainly feel way further ahead of the game in the knowledge of our organization, the relationships I have," Boone said. "In a lot of ways, I think Spring Training will look very similar to last year, but there's definitely some things that hopefully we continue to evolve as a club to allow us to improve on the margins and help us reach our peak."
Boone plans to briefly address his pitchers and catchers prior to Thursday's workout, a speech that will be reprised on Tuesday, when the full squad prepares to take the field.
"I like to go out there and kind of let it rip and say what I'm thinking," Boone said. "For the most part, I like to get up and speak from the heart about our expectations. … The expectations are great. We welcome that, we look forward to that, and hopefully this year we can get to the top of the mountain."
In addition to the news of the day -- Luis Severino is the likely Opening Day starter, CC Sabathia plans for 2019 to be his final season and Jacoby Ellsbury won't report to camp on time due to injury -- here are five things we learned or confirmed from Boone's first address of the year:
1. Breaking bread with El Gary
Boone revealed that he traveled to the Dominican Republic during the offseason to have dinner with Gary Sánchez and his wife, Sahaira. Boone said that Sanchez is progressing well from left shoulder surgery and seems to have gained maturity, which is part of the reason why he expects his starting catcher to have a great season on both sides of the ball.
"When you're as talented as a guy like Gary, there's no question that the things he went through last year physically will benefit him going forward," Boone said. "The conversations I've had with him, I feel like it's a young player who is another year along and a year more mature, and a guy who is frankly very hungry to show the world how good a player he is."
2. Gettin' Miggy
Miguel Andújar was one of the Yankees' most consistent performers from wire to wire in 2018, finishing second behind the Angels' Shohei Ohtani in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, but his defense remains a concern after he posted a -25 Defensive Runs Saved. Boone said that the Yankees will focus Andujar's efforts at the hot corner this spring, though he could see some back-field action at first base.
"His game work will be pretty much at third base, and I feel like he's in a really good place defensively," Boone said. "He's another guy that I think is in really good shape. He's worked really hard to take care of his body. There are some things that we've had him work on defensively that I think really have taken hold with him, and I think he's had a great winter of work."
3. Plan B at shortstop
Troy Tulowitzki has not played in a Major League game since July 2017, but the Yankees saw enough during a pair of showcase workouts to guarantee him a chance to serve as their starting shortstop. If Tulowitzki can't stay on the field, Boone said that Gleyber Torres will move to shortstop, with DJ LeMahieu taking over at second base. Boone added that Tulowitzki will not be asked to play anywhere but shortstop.
"As we sit here right now, we're very optimistic about what Troy is going to bring," Boone said. "Even best-case scenario, I will try and protect him, certainly in Spring Training but even early in the season. Just probably not overdoing it too much, even if things are going well."
4. The Machado dinner
Before Manny Machado agreed to a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres, according to sources, the Yankees on Dec. 19 entertained Machado and his wife, Yainee, offering a 90-minute tour of Yankee Stadium before treating them and his agent, Dan Lozano, to dinner on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Boone was there, along with general manager Brian Cashman and team president Randy Levine.
"It was a really nice dinner," Boone said. "I really enjoyed it with him. I enjoyed him and his wife. Look, he's a great player, and I'm confident that he'll be a great player moving forward. That's about my take on it. I really enjoyed the day."
5. CC you in April?
Sabathia will be behind the other pitchers this spring as he recovers from both an angioplasty and right knee surgery. Boone said that the insertion of the stent delayed Sabathia's rehab, so the hurler is not expected to throw a bullpen for a few more weeks. He needs to also serve a five-game suspension for his actions in a September game against the Rays, and Boone would not commit to Sabathia's availability in early April.
"That's something we'll revisit in two weeks, hopefully when we get him going," Boone said. "Then we'll see how he progresses and see how he's bouncing back after his bullpens, after he's going out and doing his PFPs [pitchers' fielding practice]. If he's bouncing back, then there's a realistic chance that he starts the season with us. But I think that'll become more clear over the next two to four weeks."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.