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Aaron Boone to Yankees: Embrace the expectations

Hanging on a wall in the bowels of George M. Steinbrenner Field is this quote from the Boss himself: "Winning is the most important thing in life after breathing. Breathing first. Winning next."

Aaron Boone, who spent half a season as a player in the Bronx and delivered one of the biggest home runs in franchise history, is well aware of the franchise mantra.

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The first-year Yankee manager addressed the subject Monday during his first presser held at the stadium on Dale Mabry Hwy. named after Steinbrenner.

The Yankees came within a game of reaching the World Series last fall when they lost in Game 7 to the Astros. They added right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the NL MVP, to a young roster loaded with potential, including American League rookie of the year Aaron Judge.

So, it's World Series or bust in the Bronx.

Of course, Boone knew this when he accepted the job last December.

"Embrace the expectations," he said Monday.

Reliever Dellin Betances does.

"This is probably the first year that I've come into spring training where for us, if we don't win it's not good," he said. "We were so close last year. We were one game away from the World Series. We know what it feels like. We kind of have that sour taste in our mouth. We want to win, so if we don't win it's not a great year for us. This is probably the first year I've come in with these expectations."

Being close last year was fine, and adding Stanton's powerful bat to an already powerful lineup is even finer. But the Yankees have some questions: second base, third base, rotation, bullpen.

But Boone likes the attitude of his club heading into his first spring as a manager at any level.

"We understand the expectations, and I think one of the things that is excited for me is to hear some of those comments and to be around these guys as they trickle in the last few days," Boone said. "Last year was great. A lot of these guys came of age and I think viewed it as a very successful season.

"But what stands out being in that room right now is, each guy I've spoken to, the hunger is there, and there is no satisfaction with what they were able to accomplish (last year). We understand that it is a very tough road and that will be one of our messages — especially for young players who have had success — that just because things look good right now or look good on paper and we believe we have a great team, it's also really hard and there's a lot of little things that can allow you to be a championship club, and those are the things we really want to dive into starting here in spring training.

"From what I can tell, the hunger in these guys is real."

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