“Man, I hope so,’’ Boone said Wednesday before the Yankees worked out in The Bronx in preparation for Friday’s ALDS opener against the Twins.
One of his star players agreed.
“In your second year as a manager — anywhere — to lose 30 or 40 percent of your team through injuries at some point and still win over 100 games?” Aaron Judge said recently. “That’s something you don’t see every year. That’s what a manager of the year does.”
Given the nature of the award and the Yankees’ payroll, Boone figures to be a long shot to win it, but no one remembers the manager of the year.
What they do remember is what happens in October, which is perhaps the lone question mark remaining on Boone’s managerial résumé.
After guiding the Yankees to a 100-win season a year ago, and a split in the first two games of the ALDS against the Red Sox, Boone was criticized after leaving Luis Severino in Game 3 too long and again with CC Sabathia in the season-ending loss in Game 4.
“Being in it for the first time, you try and learn from every situation you’re put in,’’ Boone said of the growth he’s made from his first to second year. “And certainly the postseason and kind of the flow of the game, just the pace and the tempo and the urgency. Obviously, I don’t know if I’m gonna list specifically things to you that I’ve learned, but we’re constantly trying to learn and evaluate every situation I’ve been in. The playoffs are part of it.”
The Yankees have made no secret they plan on relying heavily on their bullpen this October. Wednesday, Boone said they “will be aggressive” in going to their relievers.
As for the rest of the job, Judge said Boone already has it down pretty well.
Judge said he had been curious to see if Boone was going to be a good manager when he was hired prior to the 2018 season.
“I think everybody was,’’ Judge said. “There’s always gonna be questions when someone has never done something before. But he stepped right in and won 100 games that first year and has only gotten better.’’
Though Judge said Boone is “pretty much the same as a manager” from a year ago, there have been some differences — including Boone’s willingness to fight for his players.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen this year is he’s gone from ‘Should I speak up right now and how do I say it?’ to knowing when to step up for his guys,’’ Judge said. “He’s more vocal. I’ve appreciated when I’ve wanted to say something to an umpire and I know the last thing we need to do is get kicked out of a game, he’s got our back. That allows us to just go out play.”
The rest of it, from communication skills to being supportive, has been there “from Day 1,’’ according to Judge.
“Ever since that first spring training, he’d check in and get to know us and our personalities,’’ Judge said. “He’d ask how your family was doing. And in BP, he sees what you’re doing at the plate and with your swing. He’s involved and watching. He’s always paying attention and obviously knows the game.’’
But now it’s back to October, where every move is important — and scrutinized.
That’s fine with Boone.
“Part of the playoffs is pressure and you try and embrace that and use that in a positive way,’’ Boone said.
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