Also, Manager Announces Masahiro Tanaka Will Be Opening Day Starter


TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — On this year’s Yankees squad, Joe Girardi sees shades of 1996.

The 10th-year manager said Tuesday that the mix of young players and veterans on the roster reminds him of the makeup of the Yankees’ world championship team 21 years ago — a team he played for.

And that is one big reason Girardi isn’t lowering his expectations for this season.

“You look at the clubs that have won recently — a lot of young players with a few veterans mixed in,” he said. “And I think when the Yankees made their long run, there were young players mixed in with veterans.

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“I think there’s a really good mix of youth and veteran players, and we expect big things.”

Despite some big names such as Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran having moved on, Girardi said he’s not concerned about a void in veteran leadership.

“Leaders emerge,” he said. “CC’s (CC Sabathia) been a leader here for a long time. Gardy’s (Brett Gardner) been here a long time, and he’s still here. And leaders emerge. And sometimes young players emerge as leaders. Players look to them.”

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The Yankees will open their Grapefruit League schedule Feb. 24 against the Phillies at Steinbrenner Field.

TANAKA OPENING DAY STARTER
Girardi said, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he expects Mashairo Tanaka to be the Yankees’ Opening Day starter.

Tanaka was 14-4 last season with a 3.07 ERA, 165 strikeouts and 36 walks.

ROTATION BATTLE
Girardi said he feels good about the competition for the final two spots in the rotation. Tanaka, Sabathia and Michael Pineda appear to have solidified their starting jobs, putting Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell into a competition.

“I think there’s some really good candidates really for the last two spots in our rotation … that have to be ironed out,” Girardi said. “I feel good about our rotation. It’s just some of those guys that don’t make the rotation might go to the bullpen and be a significant help there. So it’s just putting the staff together is probably the most important thing.”

NO BETANCES YET
Setup man Dellin Betances will not participate in the first pitchers and catchers workouts Wednesday, WFAN’s Sweeny Murti reported. He is expected to report to camp Saturday, one day after his scheduled arbitration hearing.

Betances filed for $5 million, and the Yankees countered with $3 million. General manager Brian Cashman has previously stated that the sides were not close to settling, so they will go to trial Friday.

Betances is currently working out privately in Tampa.

GIRARDI’S FUTURE
Girardi said he isn’t thinking about the fact that he’s entering the final year of his contract. The manager, who won a World Series in 2009, signed a four-year, $16 million deal in 2013.

“It doesn’t really impact me,” Girardi said. “I’m going to do my job the same way, the way that I believe for me is the right way to do it. I won’t seek any clarity (from ownership). They have not extended managers as long as I can remember during the course of a season. So I’ll just go do my job, and whatever happens, happens.”

Girardi said he wants to stick around beyond this season to watch the Baby Bombers mature.

“I don’t envision myself doing anything different,” Girardi said as pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. “This is what I know, this is what I’ve done for a long time.”