"It's been a while; we haven't won it," said Steinbrenner today. "We're going to win it this year. We're going after them this year." Steinbrenner has been more visible at this year’s Spring Training than any year in recent memory and has made a point of being there in order to patch up his relationship with Joe Torre.
Gary Sheffield (from www.yankees.com)
Sheffield took the entire winter off, giving his battered body time to heal. He said that the Division Series loss to the Angels didn't stick with him, as he traveled to Paris, Italy, London and the Bahamas, spent time with his family and got as far away from baseball as he could.
General manager Brian Cashman met privately with Sheffield after the right fielder finished with his physical, telling the nine-time All-Star that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the club would likely pick up the $13 million option.
"The only thing I judge it on is how many rings I have, and I don't have any," Sheffield said. "That's the thing that eludes me right now and agitates me. It agitates me a lot, because I feel with the guys in this room, we should have two rings since I've been here and be working on our third. With that in mind, the mission never stops until I get it."
Cashman spoke with starter Mike Mussina, conveying the impression that the Yankees want to keep him beyond this season. But even Mussina said he believes he will not return at a salary of $17 million, meaning the Yankees will probably decline his option for that amount and try to sign him for less. "I'm pretty sure it won't be picked up unless I win 25 games," Mussina said. "But I've known that for years."
Johnny Damon: High Expectations
"I thought Joe's introductory speech was amazing," said Johnny Damon. "It really hit home. We do have to enjoy being a part of this, because the game of baseball will pass you by. This is my 12th year, and it seems like yesterday that I took the field for the first time."
"Knowing we have a good team, knowing that the goal here is to win a championship, that's what it's all about," Damon said, adding that no other manager had ever set his sights that high on the first day of spring. "There is no reason to celebrate getting into the postseason. It's great, but it's winning that championship that stays with you for a long time."
"It will probably be a more complicated role than being an everyday player at a set position," Williams said. "If I look at it that way, I think it will be more of a challenge for me."
Alex Rodriguez (from www.yankees.com - Sorry, I was lazy today!)
Alex Rodriguez's 2005 season was as good as any player's in Major League Baseball. He led the American League in home runs, slugging percentage and runs scored, placed in the top four in batting average, RBIs and on-base percentage, capturing his second AL MVP Award in three years.
None of that matters to the 30-year-old superstar. The Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, sent home early after just five games in which he went 2-for-15.
"It was very painful," Rodriguez said Monday, shortly after arriving at Legends Field for the first time this spring. "When you play as miserable as I did in the most important five games of the year, that kind of fuels you going into this year. It fuels me tremendously, because I feel that my career won't be complete without a world championship.
"This year, to use a poker term," he added, "we're all in."
Aside from A-Rod's obvious crack at his offseason poker scandal, it is clear that the third baseman is extremely focused on filling in the one gaping hole on his resume.
"[The MVP Award] is a consolation, but if you don't win in October, if you're not a world champion, nobody really cares about anything else," he said. "I came here for one reason. Winning, that's it. I could have won MVPs in Texas. I did that."