Boone on '20: 'We'll never run from expectations'

June 25th, 2020

A shortened 60-game season could mean that every team finishes within striking distance of a playoff spot, which promises great drama as October approaches. The outcome of each contest will be magnified, and Aaron Boone hopes that his Yankees can maintain a disciplined demeanor throughout that sprint to the finish.

“The talk is going to be on overdrive from Day 1,” Boone said. “Whether you win Opening Day or lose Opening Day, [people will say], ‘You can’t afford to lose too many.’ My message to our players is, you can’t live in that world; we’ve got to focus on today. Our first focus is July 3 and making sure we start laying another solid foundation to put ourselves in a good spot when the season starts.”

Boone appeared Thursday as a guest on TickPick’s ‘In the Spotlight’ series. He told host Brandon Steiner that his team is looking forward to getting back on the field following a pause of more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Yanks are set to report to Yankee Stadium on July 1, with the first ‘Summer Camp’ workout scheduled for July 3. 

“We're excited,” Boone said. “My sense from our guys and the players is that they're very excited to get back at it.”

Boone and the Yankees’ coaches are ironing out the details for that shortened version of camp, with Opening Day anticipated to be scheduled for July 23 or 24. Boone said that he believes it is important the club uses that time wisely, allowing the players to be built up safely as they enter a campaign in which many experts have forecast them among the favorites for a World Series title.

“You put the ‘N.Y.’ on, that comes with the territory,” Boone said. “We embrace that. One of the things we talk often about is, we understand that when we play teams, we're usually going to get their best. We look forward to that. We will never run from expectations, especially when we know we have a team that's capable of doing a lot. They understand that, they embrace that. And in this shortened season, we'll continue to embrace it.”

Among the changes for 2020 is that an automatic runner will be placed at second base in extra innings, a rule that has been in effect at the Minor League level since 2018. Considering the altered atmosphere and a desire to avoid lengthy contests, Boone said he is in favor of that change.

“I think it's a good idea for this year,” Boone said. “I do think it's a nice little twist. You should always be talking about areas where you might be able to improve the game. Maybe you whiff on some, but maybe you hit big on some things that initially don't look great but could be game changers moving forward. You don't want to get too stuck in the past. You always want to continue to evolve and continue to attract younger fans.”

Because games are expected to begin without fans in the stands, Boone said that he expects his players will miss the home-field advantage of a raucous Yankee Stadium. He said that it will be emphasized to the team that they can’t rely on that outside adrenaline boost, and instead must generate energy from within. 

“I certainly feel like our guys thrive on our fan base and in a filled-up Yankee Stadium,” Boone said. “We're going to have to get used to that; we're going to have to get over that. It's going to be an area that we'll focus on. I talk a lot with our guys about that we want to live on the margins. Where can we gain advantages in little areas all the time? I think that's more so this year, especially starting out with no fans.”