Aaron Boone, Yankees embracing World Series 'expectations'

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Aaron Boone has spent his entire life in and around baseball. His father and grandfather had long careers in the majors. Boone played 12 seasons in the big leagues. He spent most of the past decade as a broadcaster for ESPN.

You only get one day as your first official day as manager of the New York Yankees, however, and Boone soaked it in.

"It was a bit surreal, but I've had a lot of those moments the past couple of months preparing for the season," he said Tuesday from George Streinbrenner Field as the Yankees opened spring training camp. "It was special walking down the hall, walking into the clubhouse, into my office, walking down to the dugout for the first time ... and understanding that now is the time and the excitement that goes with that and this group of guys that we've assembled."

That group of players -- now including the addition of National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton to a team that fell one victory away from reaching the World Series -- is talented enough that expectations for the Yankees are higher than they have been in years.

"If we don't win (the World Series)," four-time All-Star reliever Dellin Betances said, "it won't be a great year for us."

Asked about Betances' quote, Boone smiled. "He's right about the World Series," Boone said. "We understand the expectations. ... Last year was great, but one of the things that stands out about being in that room right now is that each guy I've spoken to, that hunger is there. There's no satisfaction in what they accomplished last year. We understand it's a very tough road."

Boone also understands that all eyes will be on him, even during spring training. Joe Girardi managed the club for 10 seasons, winning one World Series, making six playoff appearances and never finishing below .500. After a rebuilding period of sorts, the Yankees won 91 games in 2017, their most wins since 2012.

"I understand where we are," Boone said. "It's the New York Yankees. Obviously, not having done this before, I understand a lot of the questions. A lot of people can't wait to see my style or how I'm going to go about things or how I'll command the team, so maybe it's interesting to see how that unfolds. I'm consumed with the job and being great at it and hopefully impacting our guys to take another step as a club and ultimately become a championship club."

That was a common refrain during Boone's news conference. He emphasized that spring training is about preparing individuals to get ready for the season. He said he also wants to create a clubhouse culture where players are free to be themselves. "I don't want it be a stressful place," he said. One of the first things he did after being hired was the start the clock on his relationships with players, having dinner or playing golf with some of them.

Yes, Boone has played around with some possible batting orders with Stanton and Aaron Judge, although he stressed not to read too much into his spring training lineups. He knows it will be a crowded outfield picture as well. Figuring how to deploy the two sluggers -- who both played right field in 2017 -- is a good kind of challenge.

"The exciting thing about both of those guys is you have tremendous players, both are really good defenders, but it's about trying to chase down a championship for them. With that comes some sacrifice, but there's buy-in from both guys about being in different spots. They'll both be very much part of the process, and that's something that's not set in stone right now and will unfold over the next five or six weeks."

World Series or bust. That's fine with Boone. As he said, there's one goal for the 2018 Yankees: "Win the last game."

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