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New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman thinks his team can compete for another division title this season, but until that potentially happens, he only sees them one way.

“We’re ‘The Little Engine That Could,'” he said Wednesday as a guest on ESPN New York’s “The Michael Kay Show.”

The statement was accompanied on air by laughter.

Cashman compared his team to the persistent train engine of children’s book lore after being asked how he viewed the Yankees in relation to their American League East rival, the Red Sox. Boston — which won the division last season, forcing the Yankees to settle for a wild-card playoff berth — signed free-agent power hitter J.D. Martinez earlier this week, a move that followed New York’s own offseason trade for slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

The big-money additions of Martinez and Stanton have been viewed as a sign the rivalry between the old AL East powers has intensified.

“I look at them as the defending American League East champions. We have to find a way to close the gap on them,” Cashman said of the Red Sox. “They just added another piece to improve on what they already had. So we already know who they are and what they are. And our job is to find a way to figure out to somehow get past them, and at the same time keep Toronto and Baltimore and Tampa behind us.”

The comments echoed others Cashman made earlier in the day to reporters at the Yankees’ spring training batting practice in Tampa, Florida.

“Until someone takes that away from them,” Cashman said to reporters of the Red Sox’s division title, “you’ve got to pay that homage.”

Cashman wasn’t the only one chatting about the teams’ rivalry at spring training on Wednesday. Red Sox pitcher David Price chimed in about it following a series of questions about the Yankees during a media availability in Fort Myers, Florida. He was specifically asked about whether Martinez’s addition could be viewed as a counterpunch to New York’s trade for Stanton.

After downplaying any suggestions that the rivalry was ramping up again, and even after claiming that the Red Sox don’t perceive the Yankees much differently than any of the other teams in the AL East, Price, at last, gave in.

“Sure, yeah,” Price said with a smile. “You guys want it. Let’s do it. We hate the Yankees. We hate the Yankees. Hate ’em!”

ESPN’s Scott Lauber contributed to this report.

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Washington Nationals’ Juan Soto (left shoulder) goes on 10-day injured list

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The Washington Nationals placed star outfielder Juan Soto on the 10-day injured list with a strained left shoulder, the team announced Tuesday afternoon.

Soto, 22, will have to sit out at least the next seven games; the Nationals have three off days during his IL stint.

The team recalled outfielder Yadiel Hernandez from their alternate site to replace Soto on the roster.

Soto is hitting .300 in 14 games this season.

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Slumping New York Yankees shake up lineup against Atlanta Braves

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NEW YORK — New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone made three changes to the starting lineup of his slumping team against Atlanta on Tuesday night, inserting first baseman Mike Ford and left fielder Mike Tauchman and giving Brett Gardner his second start this season in center field.

DJ LeMahieu moved back to second base from first, and center fielder Aaron Hicks, left fielder Clint Frazier and second baseman Rougned Odor moved to the bench.

New York has lost five straight games, dropping to 5-10 for its worst start since 1997.

The switch-hitting Hicks was batting .160, including 3 for 32 vs. right-handers, Frazier was hitting .167 with no RBI and Odor was batting .125.

Ford was to make his season debut. He was recalled from the alternate training site and took the roster spot of Jay Bruce, who hit .118 and retired Sunday.

Jameson Taillon started for the Yankees, who were starting a stretch of games on 13 consecutive days. Charlie Morton started for Atlanta.

Boone said he might give Hicks another day off Wednesday.

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Infielder Neil Walker retires after 12 MLB seasons

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Veteran infielder Neil Walker announced his retirement Tuesday after 12 major league seasons.

Born in Pittsburgh, he played his first seven seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates before playing for the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies over his final five seasons.

Walker, 35, made his announcement on Twitter, writing, “thank you to everyone that helped me in my journey to live out my childhood dream of being a Major Leaguer, I loved & cherished every day.”

The Pirates selected Walker with the 11th-overall pick of the 2004 draft and he went on to hit 93 home runs with 418 RBIs while slashing .272/.338/.431 in 836 games. His best major league season came in 2014 when he hit .271 and set career bests with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs, earning a Silver Slugger award. His 23 home runs broke Bill Mazeroski’s franchise record for home runs in a season by a second baseman.

Walker played for the Phillies during the 2020 pandemic shortened season, appearing in 18 games.

Overall, Walker finishes his major league career with 149 home runs and 609 RBIs and a slash line of .267/.338/.426.



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