TAMPA — The Yankees headed back to New York following their final Grapefruit League game of the spring, and Aaron Boone had one word for their attitude going into the regular season: “Hungry.”
“We understand we’re a talented team, but we also understand we haven’t done anything yet,’’ Boone said following a 5-2 loss at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “We hope we started to lay a foundation to be a championship club. A lot of guys have been here now for a few years and experienced a lot of highs and playoff success, playoff failures and disappointing ends to the season. We’ve gone through a lot as a team and we’ve added to the mix some ingredients we think can get us over the hump. I’ve felt this way the last couple years: We have a very hungry group and we want to kick the door in in the worst kind of way.”
They’ve suffered some injury scares, from Zack Britton’s elbow surgery to Luke Voit’s knee surgery and Justin Wilson being shut down, but have so far avoided any cataclysmic injuries.
Their starting rotation that looked fragile heading into camp has so far held up, as have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton — although Judge sat out Monday’s spring finale while “under the weather,” according to Boone.
The next questions the Yankees have to answer won’t come for a while, as they look to win their first title since 2009.
“Our expectations with the Yankees never really change,’’ said Brett Gardner, the longest-tenured Yankee. “Every year, we’ve got our eyes set on the ultimate prize. It’s been way too long since we’ve been back to the World Series. We’ve come up short the last few years. I feel we have a really good team and I like our chances. … I expect it to be a fun year.”
After last season was shut down just more than a year ago in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yankees will open the season in front of 20 percent capacity at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s been a long time coming,’’ general manager Brian Cashman said of the return of fans.
And he’s pleased with where his team stands as it enters the season.
“We leave Tampa in pretty good shape,’’ Cashman said. “Not with everybody we wanted to leave with, but that’s true of everybody in every camp. We’re excited to get the season started.”
Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner hasn’t laid out any championship mandates, but said in an email to The Post, “We certainly have a team that’s capable of winning it all. That’s our expectation as always.”
Steinbrenner was pleased with the spring, especially the starting pitching.
“I have been happy that we have stayed relatively healthy,’’ Steinbrenner said. “Our rotation looks solid, and we have a great lineup. There have been some pleasant surprises as well. All good.”
Whether that remains the case depends largely on whether they can avoid more injuries.
“We’re like-minded,’’ Boone said of his team. “We want to be a championship team. We understand there’s a lot of baseball to be played and hopefully we have the opportunity to play for that at the end of the year.”
So far, he’s liked what he’s seen.
“I feel confident we’re cut out for it and ready for it,’’ Boone said of the grind of the season. “Now it’s about following through and living that out consistently. It’s easy to talk about, but another thing to go live it every day.”