TAMPA — No one does an imitation of Joe Torre walking from the dugout to the pitcher’s mound quite like Aaron Boone.
Video of Boone hilariously doing the Torre walk when he was with ESPN’s Baseball Tonight has garnered nearly 40,000 views on YouTube — and probably even more laughs.
But don’t expect Boone to be imitating Torre’s walk when he manages his first Yankees spring training game on Friday.
“I’m just hoping I don’t trip and fall,” Boone said jokingly after his Thursday press conference.
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Whether he can manage remains to be seen, but Boone certainly looks the part. His hat is often eschewed, his shades can sometimes be found on the back of his neck, and he always walks around with a bat or sunflower seeds in his hands — sometimes both.
The atmosphere in camp has seemed pretty light and relaxed, though Boone has obviously told his players to embrace championship-or-bust expectations and the pressure that comes with them.
Boone figures to learn a thing or two more than more-established managers over the next few weeks, but he’s not about to put a ton of importance personally on games that don’t count in the standings.
“We’re just trying to make different evaluations and probably allow or do some certain things that we might not in the regular season,” Boone said. “Kind of getting a feel for skillsets and what we think different guys are capable of doing. But as I’ve said before spring training is really about individual players and getting them ready for Opening Day, and tomorrow is the start of that.”
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Marquee offseason acquisition Giancarlo Stanton is expected to make his spring Yankees debut, highlighting the day. Last season, Aaron Judge hit a mammoth homer in the first game of the spring. No one knew it at the time, but it was a sign of things to come.
“There will be a little excitement with the crowd and pinstripes and playing a game and playing another team,” Boone said. “The juices start to get flowing for that.”
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Still, Boone says there are things he can pick up, whether that’s early evaluations of opposing players or situations that come up in the course of a game.
“I don’t think there’s anything especially in these early games where you’re going to pick up anything strategically, but it gives you a chance to see opposing players and start to formulate an opinion and a thought, hopefully things that go into allowing us to win ballgames,” he said.
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The pregame workouts are in the books.
“I kind of keep telling people there’s nothing that has blindsided me or has been overwhelming or anything like that,” Boone said. “There are a lot of things that come across the desk each and every day. There are a lot of things you kind of have your tentacles on or are trying to touch each and every day with your coaches and your players. But nothing that’s been overwhelming so far, (though) I understand that day is coming too.”
Aaron Judge (shoulder) just tracked pitches, rather than taking full batting practice. “He’s doing well, and I think right on schedule to go in a game next week,” Boone said, noting this was built into the schedule. … Boone said Gary Sanchez getting Friday off had nothing to do with last year’s bench-clearing incident against the Tigers, noting the team has a specific plan to keep its franchise catcher fresh. … CC Sabathia threw a live batting practice session. He doesn’t have a date yet for his first spring start, but plans to do bullpens and perhaps sim games in order to stay fresh. Sabathia thought he had a better feel for his changeup. The goal is to keep him healthy. Sabathia tweaked his ankle during a fielding drill early in camp, but it wasn’t anything significant.
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