TAMPA, Fla. -- Out of respect for what the Astros, Indians and Red Sox accomplished last season, Brian Cashman refuses to classify his Yankees as World Series favorites, but the general manager is making his objective clear for the upcoming season.
"I need another ring," Cashman said. "I've got rings, but there's other guys in there that don't have rings. Some have rings somewhere else. They want a Yankee ring. I think having a ring with the 'NY' on it means more than any of the other ones out there, in my opinion."
Cashman has scored four World Series rings in his 20 years as GM, winning three straight championships from 1998-2000 and again in '09. He was the assistant GM when the Yankees won their 1996 title.
Coming off a 91-win regular season that saw the Yankees advance to within one victory of the World Series, and with the addition of National League MVP Award winner Giancarlo Stanton in a December trade with the Marlins, Cashman said that he senses the spring buzz "is a lot louder and more positive."
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"I guess time will tell, but there is a lot of excitement about what we did last year and the offseason additions," Cashman said. "We've got ground to make up. Despite what happened in the postseason, the Red Sox won the division, and Cleveland and Houston each won 100-plus games. They were the best teams in the American League. We know our work is cut out for us."
Shock and awe
Brett Gardner spent part of his Monday morning hitting alongside Stanton underneath the first-base grandstand at George M. Steinbrenner Field, marveling at how the ball echoed off the slugger's bat. When they had completed their rounds, Aaron Judge stepped into the box.
"I wish I could feel what they feel when they hit a baseball, and be able to hit it like they do," Gardner said. "It's pretty humbling for me to get in there sandwiched between those two guys. It just kind of reminds me that my job is to get on base and let those guys hit the ball over the fence."
Gardner said that last year's late run was a welcome change for the Yankees, and he sees the American League Championship Series loss as an appetizer for what is yet to come.
"Yankee Stadium, the way it was last October, that's something that none of us that were on the field will forget," Gardner said. "I've experienced that before several years ago, but it was good to feel again. A lot of those guys, that's the first time they've experienced something like that.
"I know that's one thing that Giancarlo is excited about, coming over here, is having a chance to play into October. I think in Miami, it was a difficult situation for him to be in. He's excited to be over here and have an opportunity to win and play in New York. We're obviously excited to have him."
Miguel Andujar focused on his defensive footwork during his winter workouts in the Dominican Republic, and the 22-year-old third-base prospect believes that he is ready to take on a starting role in the big leagues.
"During the offseason, I was working with a coach out there, doing a lot of work on my consistency and rhythm," Andujar said through an interpreter on Monday. "And the same I've been doing here with [infield coach Carlos Mendoza]. That's the key. I want to be more consistent and grounded when playing defense."
Infielders Danny Espinosa, Jace Peterson, Gleyber Torres and Tyler Wade will also see reps at third base, but Andujar's focus is solely on the hot corner. Andujar's bat made noise last year, including three hits and four RBIs in his June 28 debut against the White Sox.
"It was an exciting moment and an exciting experience, to be able to be here and learn from and have fun with the other guys," Andujar said. "After I got sent down, it served as motivation to me to do the best I could and the best I can to get back here."
He said it: "We surprised a lot of people. It was exciting, not just for the organization and the players, but the fan base. To see all the talent we have, all these guys coming up, really being ready for prime time. I think being able to add the NL MVP to an already good lineup is exciting. I think that it has the potential to be pretty special." -- Gardner