Aaron Boone knows the feeling.
He had just one year, just one chance and one taste of the playoffs, but it was a big one. Boone remembers his run to the 2003 World Series with the Yankees and said his first trip to the playoffs as a manager is similar.
“You know, we’re playing for a lot. And you pour a lot into this, whether you’re a player, whether you’re in my position, whether you’re behind the scenes, whether you’re a front office member,” the first-year Yankee manager said before Wednesday night’s American League wild card game against the A’s at the Stadium. “A lot of people pour a lot into us being in this position to have a chance and to playing in the postseason.
“So with that comes a lot of emotion, a lot of excitement, anxious, butterflies, the whole bit,” Boone said. “ And I would say that’s fairly similar now as when I was a player.”
But this year has been one of learning for Boone, who had never managed before. So Wednesday night was another educational experience. Boone had some ideas about that heading into the game.
“First of all, there’s no tomorrow. Obviously you tend to be a little more aggressive with how you potentially use your bullpen. You’re not thinking in terms of I need to give this guy a day or stay away from this guy or this guy’s pitched a few days in a row,” Boone said. “We’re fresh, we have a couple starters in our bullpen. So I think that’s the biggest thing is you’re probably — just a little more aggressiveness and urgency with everything you do knowing that there is no tomorrow. So I think that’s the biggest difference.”
The Yankees had three rookies starting in their first playoff game Wednesday. They had Luke Voit hitting fifth, Miguel Andujar hitting seventh and Gleyber Torres hitting ninth, but Boone said he thinks they are all ready.
“I think first and foremost, I think they have a lot of confidence. And confidence is a powerful thing in baseball and in sports,” Boone said. “And I think they know they can play. And they know they belong here. And that’s served them well. And that’s helped them through the roller coaster that can be a Major League season. And I think that’s allowed them to handle things really well and allowed them to be really consistent at what they’ve done.”
The Yankees second half of the season was marred by injuries, but Wednesday night, Boone was finally comfortable with their health.
“I feel like over the last 10 days we’ve kind of gotten our team whole again and back. And that’s comforting,” Boone said. “That’s comforting going into this game and into the postseason. And like I said, I feel like with the group we have in there, look, anything can happen obviously, but I feel like we can play and beat anyone. And I think our guys know that. I think at the core they know that and believe that and hopefully that serves us well going into tonight.”
LUCKY TO GET LUKE
Luke Voit was a player that the Yankees thought had “upside” when they dealt for him in July, but to be honest they also really wanted the international slot money, Brian Cashman said before Wednesday night’s game.
“First base wasn’t supposed to be a problem. I think we all expected great things from Greg Bird it just didn’t happen,” Cashman told Mike Francesa on WFAN. “We looked at a lot different upgrades in that area. St., Louis had a need for Shreve, we needed upgrade potential at first base because Tyler Austin was going to be out of options and at their looking international slot money. Luke showed up on our radar a couple years ago, out analytics department did a good job identifying him. We liked his upside.”Wednesday night, Voit was starting at first base for the Yankees in the most important game of the year. Voit is hitting .333 with 14 homers and 33 RBI in 39 games with the Yankees.
“He’s earned everything he’s got,” Cashman said. “I am happy for him.”