TAMPA — Entering his third season as Yankees manager, Aaron Boone didn’t shy away from what was at stake as his team worked out for the first time this spring on Thursday.
“It’s an exciting day,’’ Boone said. “We have, obviously, big expectations and we embrace those expectations. We look forward to the long process now of trying to chase a championship. Those foundational pieces really start to get laid in earnest today.”
Position players don’t report until next week, but pitchers and catchers started their work Thursday.
“It was good to see guys as a group, as a team on the back field, working on their defensive things, on the pitchers’ fielding practice,’’ Boone said. “To see a number of guys throwing their first pens.’’
And Boone also gave his first message to the team.
Aaron Boone signs autographs for Yankees fans during his team’s first workout of the spring.Charles Wenzelberg
“Aaron, this morning, talked about bringing energy and bringing a positive vibe and focus into the clubhouse,’’ new arrival Gerrit Cole said. “So, essentially, I think he’s really calling on all of us to be leaders in that sense.’’
Boone called the possibility of MLB adopting a new playoff system, which would increase the amount of teams qualifying from five in each league to seven, “interesting.’’
“Not to ride the fence too much, but I’m not sure how I feel,’’ the manager said. “I’m open to it. If you go back over the course of history, I think a lot of people balked initially at the first wild card and the second wild card.’’
The new system, which is under consideration to begin in 2022, would involve the team with the best record in each league getting a bye to avoid a best-of-three wild-card round.
“I think it is important to protect the integrity of our season because the 162 is so meaningful,’’ Boone said. “In our sport, more than others, it’s special to get to the postseason. If there’s some way to continue to reward teams that have excellent regular seasons, I’m OK with that.”