Yankees manager Aaron Boone spoke with reporters on Wednesday as pitchers and catchers officially reported for the start of Spring Training.
Boone addressed a number of topics but here are some key takeaways from his press conference...
On Year 2 as manager...
It is no secret the Yankees' expectations are World Series or bust - the same as last season - but now Boone enters this year with a season of experience under his belt .
"In some way looking back, I certainly feel way further ahead of the game just in my knowledge in the organization and relationships I have within the organization, not just our players," he said. "So, there's no question just being much further along at this point. But a lot of ways I feel like I walked in fairly comfortable at this time."
As far embracing the expectations this season Boone said he has not addressed the team yet but said he will "let it rip."
"There will certainly be some things I hit on with my club the first day, but for the most part I like to get up and speak from the heart about the expectations. But there's no question we'll embrace those expectations ... hopefully this year we can get to the top of the mountain."
On how he views the roster...
The Yankees did not make the sexy move of signing Manny Machado this winter, but they did address several areas, including their starting rotation and bullpen as well as infield depth, which has Boone believing they already look better than the 100-win team from last year.
"I feel like the depth we've created, even if healthy, we'll probably have really good options and really good players sitting in Triple-A to make major contributions later in the year," he said. "On paper, our rotation, and even our bullpen, feels even a little bit stronger as we sit here today. ...we're sitting here and it's early February. In a lot of ways the talk about it is cheap. We have tremendous expectations and I think we rightfully have those expectations but now we gotta go out and do it."
Expectations for Gary Sanchez...
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in 2018 was the performance of Gary Sanchez, both defensively and at the plate.
The right-handed slugger hit .186/.291/.406 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI last year and had shoulder surgery this offseason. Boone is optimistic the 26-year-old can turn things around and revealed that he spent time with Sanchez and his family in the Dominican Republic this winter.
"He's doing really well, his body is in really good shape. I think he's going to have a really great year for us on both sides of the ball," Boone said. "I'm really excited about his frame of mind right now. We're counting on him to go out and be a great player for us."
"I just think he's a year more mature," Boone continued. "Going through some of the things he went through last year - bumps in the road, struggles - especially as a young player can be great things in grand scheme of things in his career, especially when you're as talented as a guy like Gary. ... I spent time with him this offseason. I went down to the Dominican and spent some time and the conversations I've had with him show he's a young player another year along, another year mature and a guy, frankly, who is very hungry to go out and show the world how good of a player he is."
Miguel Andujar's defense...
Andujar struggled as a rookie at third base last season and there have been whispers that the Yankees would try him out at first base or elsewhere, but Boone quickly shot that speculation down.
"[He will play] entirely at third," Boone said. "That said, there may be a day or two where we have him on a back field just getting some first base in - which we may do with a [Austin] Romine or Gary - just to keep some versatile options when you get into a bind. But, no, his game work will be entirely third base. I think he's in a very good place defensively. He's another guy who I think has had a great winter, another guy I think is in really good shape, who worked really hard taking care of his body and stuff. There's some things we've worked on defensively that have really taken hold of him and he's had a great winter of work."
On competition at first base...
Most of the Yankees roster is set in stone but the battle at first base between Luke Voit and Greg Bird is up for grabs, although Boone admitted that Voit is at an advantage.
"I think based on what Luke did last year he comes in with a leg up," Boone said. "That doesn't change my mind - never has, even at his lowest points last year - for Greg Bird and his ceiling when he is right. He's another guy who's worked really hard this winter and comes in physically in a good place where he wasn't last year."