Yankees new manager Aaron Boone stepped on George M. Steinbrenner Field hungry. And so did his players.
In his first press conference from the Yankees' Spring Training camp in Tampa, FL, Boone noted that every player he has spoken to is ready to live up to the high expectations everyone has for them this season. But he knows it is going to take tons of work on and off the field to get to the position they covet.
Seeing that hunger, though, couldn't make Boone any happier.
"Each guy I've spoken to, the hunger is there," he said "...Just because things look good now, it's also really hard and there's a lot of little things that allow you to be a championship club. From what I can tell, the hunger in these guys is real."
Some players will channel that hunger into drive to win a starting role for Opening Day. Second base and third base will see obvious spotlights with Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, and Tyler Wade among players vying for those positions. But Boone noted that figuring out all aspects of the team will be a fun experience as camp unfolds.
Other than the infield vacancies, Boone said that he will be working to see what he and the rest of the coaching staff should do with the DH position, as Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge will likely split time in right field. Also, he said it helps that players don't mind their role at the moment as they just want to win.
So, along with the exhibition games, practices will be intense, and that is just the way Boone wants it.
"I expect us to have an energy and a pace at the way we practice," Boone said. "One of our mantras is we want to practice at a championship pace."
As for his staff, Boone has relied -- and will rely -- heavily on pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who he said knew would be back with the team before he was hired.
"A lot," Boone said on how much he has spoken with Rothschild. "One of the things I was aware of, Rothschild was coming back no matter what, and that put me at east a little bit. I frankly do a lot of listening because I want to hear what he has to say. He's so passionate, he's good at what he does...So I'm leaning on him a ton."
Boone has been absorbing as much knowledge as possible with this being his first year as a skipper. He knows that of all the attention the Yankees will generate this season, most of it will be aimed in his direction. And he is ready for that.
"I understand a lot of the questions," he said about his own expectations. "Maybe it's one of the more interesting to see how that unfolds. But it's something [managing] that I'm consumed with, and just hopefully impacting our guys to take another step as a club and hopefully become a championship club."
At the moment, the expectation for Boone's club is championship-or-bust with the names on his roster sheet. And the players have that expectation for themselves. In turn, the media, fans, and the MLB as a whole will be analyzing the team through a fine microscope throughout the season, and Boone wants them to embrace it.
"Embrace that expectation," Boone said. "Expect to go out there and be great. With that, comes this kind of attention. We're going to expect to be great."