NEW YORK -- When the Yankees arrive at Tropicana Field on Friday to begin their first road trip of the young season, they’ll watch the Rays raise their American League pennant, a not-so-welcome reminder of a 2020 campaign that ended too early for their tastes.
Brett Gardner believes there is a message to be gleaned from that display, not wanting to forget the experiences of a shortened campaign in which the division rivals swapped bad blood.
“There's definitely a sour taste in our mouth from that,” Gardner said Wednesday. “We would like to get back on top and win the division, win the American League and move on to the World Series. They obviously had the better team last year, so hopefully this year we'll take that crown from them.”
The Yankees posted a 33-27 record to finish seven games behind Tampa Bay during last year’s 60-game campaign, losing eight of 10 meetings head-to-head. They crossed paths again during a neutral-site American League Division Series played at San Diego’s Petco Park.
Gardner, the Yankees’ longest-tenured player, was one of several players to address the roster during an emotional clubhouse meeting that followed New York’s loss in Game 5.
“The short of it was, there's no guarantees,” Gardner said. “Things aren't given to you. Last year with the pandemic and the different things that we went through, nothing's guaranteed. Nobody knows what the future looks like. I think our guys have come into camp and done a good job of getting our work in preparing for the season. We're excited to get going.”
The Yankees prepared to play Wednesday’s game with a 25-man roster, keeping one space open for the second consecutive evening after optioning right-hander Michael King to the alternate training site Tuesday afternoon.
Boone said that the club anticipates adding left-hander Justin Wilson to the active roster during Thursday’s off-day. King was not considered available to pitch after tossing six scoreless innings in relief of Domingo Germán on April 4 against the Blue Jays.
Boone said that he is “very optimistic” that the Yankees will reach the 85% threshold of COVID-19 vaccinations for Tier 1 individuals, allowing relaxed health and safety protocols for the club. Players, coaches and field staff and support staff received vaccine shots at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
In a statement, the club said:
“The New York Yankees would like to offer their sincere thanks to Dr. Philip Ozuah, President of Montefiore Medical Center, and the hard-working and dedicated group of medical staff from this Bronx-based hospital, who have been on-site at Yankee Stadium this evening to administer COVID vaccinations to New York Yankees players, coaches, field staff and support staff. This process has been seamless and efficient, and we are grateful that by receiving the vaccine, we can contribute to stopping the spread of COVID-19.”
Clubs were informed just before Opening Day that MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to relax certain health and safety protocols contained in the 2021 Operations Manual for fully vaccinated Tier 1 individuals and for clubs where 85% of their Tier 1 individuals are fully vaccinated. As part of that memo, players and staff were again strongly encouraged to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines when eligible.
He said it
"He makes a really good cup of coffee. Sometimes I don't let him go out and do what he's got to do if I need a cup of coffee. He brews it right at his locker. He knows what he's doing in the coffee game." -- Boone, on noted coffee enthusiast Jameson Taillon
This date in Yankees history
April 7, 1994: Don Mattingly notched his 1,000th career RBI in an 18-6 victory over the Rangers, becoming the ninth Yankee to reach the milestone and the first since Mickey Mantle in 1961.