Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Wednesday, officially kicking off open season on asking Yankees manager Aaron Boone questions about his roster, all the way from Man No. 1 through 25.
And, much like following any other season that didn’t end with a trophy presentation, the city’s intrepid reporters got to work early.
Boone sat in place and addressed questions for about an hour, bouncing back and forth between discussing the offseason maneuvers, the status of rebound candidates like Gary Sanchez, and the level of comfort he feels with the current group of guys.
Of course, plenty of time was spent addressing the players who weren’t there, too.
After taking time to memorialize the passing of ESPN’s Pedro Gomez, a former colleague of Boone’s during his time on Sunday Night Baseball, the manager addressed the elephant in the room.
Is Brett Gardner coming? If not, why not? What’s happening here?
Boone admitted that he hasn’t spoken to the cueball left fielder over the past few weeks, but also smirked a bit addressing his absence, stating, “We’ll see” what comes next.
Was it a knowing smile? Acceptance of the arrival of a question he felt bad answering honestly? Or just early-season exhaustion?
For the first time in weeks (months? years?), we’re actually beginning to think Gardner won’t be back, especially following the arrivals of Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich and a shifting in the national media’s tone; Ken Rosenthal, for example, thinks a fit is now unlikely.
For the Gardner fanatics out there, though, Boone provided a trickle of hope Wednesday, hardly addressing his departure as a done deal.
He did reveal how much he spoke to departing starters Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton this offseason, claiming he sent a few texts when Tanaka left for Japan, and hasn’t spoken with Paxton much, though he thanked him for his 2019 service.
As for last season’s stragglers, Boone seemed to show faith in players like Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez, who saw their shortened campaigns ridiculed. Sanchez, for one, will be given every opportunity to connect with Gerrit Cole again this year. The “personal catcher” appears to be a thing of the past.
Makes you wonder why it was used in playoff games if it wasn’t a terribly important connection, but we digress.
As for last year’s breakout star? Don’t worry about Clint Frazier.
According to Boone, he’ll be the everyday left fielder, whether Brett Gardner walks through those wooden doors like an old sheriff or not.
The best part about this press conference, other than at least an attempt to address the Gardner situation, was a return to the rhythm of the 162-game grind.
Now, the sooner we get those reporters off Zoom, the better. Let’s prep that Moderna.