The beauty of sports is it doesn’t wait for perfection, right? You don’t get 20 takes per scene like the movies, or operate the recording studio just like you want it.
So the Yankees broke camp late Sunday, packing up George M. Steinbrenner Field, the majority of the guys heading to Atlanta for an exhibition game with the Braves and some staying back to clock some extra work in good weather before Thursday’s season opener in Toronto.
“If we’re not [ready], we’ve got to be,” CC Sabathia said, succinctly enough.
The expectations for this team are vast in the wake of last season’s surprising surge and the stunning December acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, and you wonder whether it’ll prove too much too soon for this overall young group. Whether the Yanks will need a gap year — a la the Astros in 2016, before fully jelling — especially with brand new manager Aaron Boone running things is still unclear.
Furthermore, an overall tranquil camp hit its most sour note Saturday when Greg Bird reported soreness on the right foot that kept him out of commission for the vast majority of 2017. By the end of business Monday, after Bird sees foot specialist Martin O’Malley in New York, the Yankees should have a good idea of how long, if at all, they’ll miss their prodigal first baseman.
“I talked to him a little bit” on Saturday, Brett Gardner said. “I know that he’s frustrated. … Hopefully it’s nothing too serious and something that will allow him to get back on the field soon.”
Down in Port Charlotte, where the Yankees wrapped up their Grapefruit League schedule against the Rays, Boone spoke of general encouragement based on what doctors saw in the CT scan and MRI on Saturday. Gardner said that, based on his phone conversation with Bird, “I guess for me maybe a little more optimistic because obviously it’s something that’s bothering him, but it’s not something that’s blunt-force trauma like getting hit by a ball like [Brandon] Drury.”
Gardner was among the veterans who reported Sunday afternoon to Steinbrenner Field, having been protected from the grind of the long round trip to Port Charlotte, and partook in a rapid workout. On Field 3, Gary Sanchez crushed a ball over the left-field wall that nearly stopped traffic on Dale Mabry Highway outside the ballpark. As the Yankees waited for Boone to return and join them on their flight, Gardner, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, among others, hit more in the indoor batting cages.
Aroldis Chapman opened fan mail and signed autographs. Sabathia, having thrown in a minor league intrasquad game earlier in the day to prepare for his Saturday start in Toronto, strolled in after the workout with his bags packed.
“We’re ready to start the season,” Sabathia said.
“I’m excited about it, man,” Gardner said. “We’ve got a great group of guys. I think we’ve had great spring training. And everybody, all the hard work you put in the offseason and obviously during the spring season, this is what you do it for.
“Opening Day is an exciting time for everybody. I like the group of guys we’ve got in place, and I’m excited to see where this year takes us.”
Since camp opened, the Yankees added infielders Drury and Neil Walker, and plenty more new faces figure to arrive during the grind of the marathon. Sonny Gray, last year’s largest trade-deadline acquisition, will start Monday night in Atlanta, and by this year’s deadline, he’ll possibly welcome the next significant addition to the team’s starting rotation.
The prologue ends now. Can this team match the hype and hope surrounding it? If the Yankees are not ready by Thursday, the truth will be out there for everyone to see.