TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — As usual around this time of year, hopes and expectations are sky high for the Yankees.
And they should be considering the Bombers are coming off an AL Championship Series appearance and in the offseason adding arguably the best starting pitcher in the sport in Gerrit Cole.
Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training on Wednesday, and all eyes were understandably on Cole, who signed a nine-year, $324 million contract in free agency, bolstering a Yankees rotation that was sorely in need of an ace and at the same time weakening his former team, the powerhouse Houston Astros.
In all his glory: pic.twitter.com/BB2Q0iFUaw
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) February 12, 2020
The hard-throwing right-hander immediately settled in, throwing BBs during his bullpen session and acclimating with his new coaches and teammates. Needless to say, it looked like class was in session, CBS2’s Otis Livingston reported.
Cole is expected to talk to reporters on Thursday, but manager Aaron Boone already seems smitten.
“We’re just really excited to have him, and it’s exciting to see him come in here and know that this is absolutely the place he wants to be. It feels like a little bit of destiny, him finally getting here,” Boone said.
But the dominant topic during the manager’s first press conference of spring training was the Astros, who Major League Baseball found guilty of stealing signs during their 2017 World Series-championship season. The Astros beat the Yankees in seven games in the ALCS that year. Boone wasn’t the manager, but was last October when Jose Altuve refused to have his shirt removed after his series-winning home run off Bombers closer Aroldis Chapman. Boone said he isn’t convinced Houston players weren’t wearing some type of electronic device to relay signs during that series.
“One of the great unknowns, and I spent time, as I’m sure a lot of people have been, wondering about what, potentially, could be going on and we’ll probably never know for sure, frankly,” Boone said.
Boone said he has no problem with his players addressing the topic now, but wants them to start focusing on the 2020 season. Spanish-speaking catcher Gary Sanchez had an interesting response when Livingston asked him his feelings on the subject during the offseason.
A translator wasn’t really necessary.
“Wow,” Sanchez said. “I mean, wow!”
Sanchez also had a funny response when he was asked about Altuve telling his teammates not to rip off his jersey, saying, “If I hit a homer and get my team to the World Series, they can rip off my pants. They can rip everything off.”