The long winter is finally over. This is the day so many have been looking forward to. Spring Training begins (well, pitchers and catchers report today, at least)! The following are some of the things I'll be looking for.
- It will be interesting to see how new manager Aaron Boone runs his camp. Will it be a serious camp with a lot of time spent of fundamentals? Or will it be a relaxed camp where the players can pretty go through the motions? In short, what will the expectations be? When it comes to Spring Training, I always think back to Derek Jeter and the famous Flip Play in the 2001 American League Division Series. One of the most amazing reactions to the play was Jeter's. He stated that that was a play they worked on over and over again in Spring Training. The play worked because the manager, Joe Torre, spent the time thinking through the fundamentals. It is my hope that Aaron Boone uses Spring Training to establish a winning tone that is based upon fundamentals, hard work, and the spirit of winning. The last thing I want to see during the season is a team that plays sloppy baseball because they weren't focused during Spring Training.
- I am very interested to see how Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres perform this spring. This is their first BIG chance to make a Major League squad. Will they rise to the challenge? The same holds true for Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams. Will either of these two highly touted prospects shine enough in the spring to make the Yankees consider bringing them north when the season begins?
- I am a BIG Clint Frazier fan. It seems that he has no role on this team. I hope he has a GIGANTIC spring and that his skills, work ethic, and performance turn heads. I hope he plays so well that he forces the Yankees to find a regular spot in the lineup for him.
- I still have to assume that the Yankees will make a deal of some sort for an infielder or a pitcher (or both). I'm surprised it didn't happen all winter, but those are two ares of perceived weakness that seemingly need to be addressed. The rumor mill is fun, but I'd like to see what players they finally acquire. (They will acquire a player...right?)
- As I mentioned previously, I look forward to the many articles that will be written about players who breakout with unforeseen abilities - the pitcher showcasing an amazing new pitch, a batter that displays tremendous power, and other such stories. Most of these amazing circumstances eventually become nothing, but it is always exciting to dream and hope that a player finally arrives and that that player will help the Yankees ultimately win.
- I might try to keep track of all of the former Yankees (and other) stars who arrive at camp to tutor and mentor the players. That might be a fun list to develop. I think the players learn a lot when they interact with the legends of yesteryear and other successful people. I think Russell Wilson will bring a level of professionalism to the camp that will rub off on the players as they see what it takes to win year after year. Success begets success.
- As for players who weren't invited to Spring Training and their grievances with Yankees' management, I have to say, I really don't care and I hope those stories go away. Brian Cashman is an outstanding General Manager. He has built a team that should compete for the pennant and ultimately the World Series. Rich "Goose" Gossage was a great Yankee in the late 1970's and 1980's. I'm not interested in their disagreements. I'd like to remember Gossage for his fastball and I'd like the stories about Cashman to be about the great players he finds and acquires that help the Yankees win.
- I am hoping that all of the players come to camp with the primary focus of working hard and winning. The success the team found last year can sometimes negatively impact players. Did the seriousness of purpose that is necessary exist for each player all winter - or did some players succumb to the temptations that come from fame and fortune and success? (we will soon find out.)
- It is an exciting time to be a Yankees fan. The future is now. Here's to the beginning of what should be the first in a long line of successful teams under Aaron Boone!
Front Photo from Max Pixel (http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Baseball-Spring-Training-New-York-Yankees-2127910)