New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said he felt the need to step up and be a team leader as one of the more experienced players on the Yankees' current roster.
Following the retirements of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, Gardner, 33, is the longest tenured Yankee on the roster, followed by LHP CC Sabathia, who became a Yankee one year after Gardner climbed through the farm system.
"For me, I feel like I need to be a leader, yeah," Gardner told the New York Daily News' Mike Mazzeo. "It's going to be different (without Teixeira and Rodriguez)."
The subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason, Gardner said he didn't focus on the rumors surrounding him.
"I usually try not to listen to it, to be honest, but it is what it is," Gardner said. "On one hand, obviously I don't want to get traded. But, on the other hand, the fact that maybe some other teams have interest in me, I see that as a compliment. But I don't want to play anywhere else. I want to be here."
While Gardner had a .261/.351/.362 batting line with seven home runs and 41 RBIs in 148 games last season as New York missed the playoffs for the third time in the last four years, he is hopeful he and the Yankees' young roster can get back to the postseason in search of the franchise's 28th World Series title.
"It's up to me and some veteran guys to help these young guys feel comfortable and help them be successful," Gardner said, "and I think we can have a really good year. For us, it's always the same thing every year: We're trying to win a World Series."