NEW YORK -- The concept of the first Yankees "Winter Warm-Up" was to introduce the next wave of players to New York City, franchise history and the fan base with the help of several veteran players.
Judging by the turnout at events held throughout the city and the positive reactions from players involved, the idea proved to be a success, and one that the organization will consider continuing in future offseasons.
"All of it, it's a growing experience," general manager Brian Cashman said. "I think it gives fans some exposure to who they are as individuals, which is an important part of the process. Our fan base should keep their eyes on a lot of these guys, because some of them will be part of something special in the near future."
Gary Sanchez began the week by surprising longtime season-ticket holders Michael and Cecilia Warren at their home in Manhattan, bringing them a Yankees gift pack that included batting-practice field passes and autographed memorabilia. The Warrens have had tickets in the grandstand since 2002.
Sanchez then traveled back to the Bronx to make a surprise appearance at the Bullpen Deli, across River Avenue from Yankee Stadium, where he interacted with customers from behind the counter while helping slap together ham and turkey sandwiches.
"This is very exciting, to come to the neighborhood and spend some time with the people around us," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "It's fun."
Yankees prospects Chance Adams, Clint Frazier, James Kaprielian and Gleyber Torres had the chance to connect with the past, going on a guided "Hands on History" tour of the Yankees Museum. Players were invited to hold a game-used bat from Babe Ruth, a jersey worn by Lou Gehrig and a glove worn by Mickey Mantle.
"I was envisioning myself and a few others out there [on the field] at some point," Frazier said. "I don't know when I'll be there, but I'm happy to be here. I'm proud to say I'm part of the Yankees organization. It's the goal to make it up there this year."
In the afternoon, the players were joined by Starlin Castro as they visited two Bronx locations: a Senior Center and an elementary school. In the evening, all of the players took take part in a one-hour "Town Hall" Q&A at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square with approximately 300 invited fans that was live-streamed on yankees.com.
"Just being in a situation where they have fan Q&As like we did in the Hard Rock Cafe, or having a chance to sword-fight a little bit in a polite way with the press and respond to the lights, cameras, action -- it's good experience for them," Cashman said.
Adams, Castro, Frazier, Justus Sheffield and Torres started the afternoon by serving lunch to seniors with Encore Community Services at St. Malachy's Church in Manhattan, and when the DJ began playing salsa music, some of the players hit the floor to show off some of their dance moves.
"I think it's a great idea, especially since not every fan knows those guys," Castro said. "Now they're coming to New York; those guys have really good talent and I feel really happy to be here."
Later in the afternoon, the players visited the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Sheffield said that walking the streets of New York helped reinforce how close their big league dreams could be.
"We talk about it all the time," Sheffield said. "It's nothing that we don't know, but we're still going to go out there every day and act like it could be our last day the next day. We're going to go out there and try our hardest and hopefully get up there soon."
Carsten Sabathia, Chase Headley, Matthew Holliday and Sheffield started their day at Yankee Stadium, calling season-ticket holders to thank them for their support. In the early afternoon, the group took a brief tour of Little Italy in the Bronx before sitting down to lunch at an Arthur Avenue restaurant.
"Even last year in Spring Training, getting to see some of the young players and what they are capable of and the type of people they are, obviously there's going to be even more of that this year," Headley said. "I'm looking forward to getting to know those guys and hopefully offering any help that I can to get them to this level and help us to be successful."
Following lunch, the players visited pediatric patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York before traveling down to Madison Square Garden, where they took in the Wizards' 113-110 victory over the Knicks.
"I think it's exciting times for us," Cashman said. "We have a lot of quality, young, hungry talented players, and we still have some veterans mixed in here. I think if we stay healthy and perform up to our capabilities, I think we can start writing a new chapter in Yankee-land with exciting futures ahead."