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New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman

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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 re-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. “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 Yankees spring training batting practice in Tampa.

“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 Wednesday. Red Sox pitcher David Price chimed in about it following a series of questions about the Yankees during a media availability. 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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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger to DH in Game 4 due to back stiffness

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Cody Bellinger was moved to designated hitter a little more than an hour before Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday because of stiffness in his lower back.

A.J. Pollock replaced Bellinger in center field against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, speaking to local reporters, said Bellinger received treatment at the ballpark and tried to move around but his back did not cooperate.

Roberts called Bellinger’s back issue “a day-to-day thing” and said Bellinger would return to the outfield for Sunday’s Game 5 if his back loosens up properly.

Bellinger is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, a major benefit given the expansive outfield at Globe Life Field. Pollock came up as a center fielder but does not cover as much ground.

Roberts told reporters he considered moving Mookie Betts from right to center but decided otherwise because it would put multiple players out of position.

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Kevin Cash stacks Tampa Bay Rays’ lineup with righties, drops Brandon Lowe to 5th for World Series Game 4

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ARLINGTON, Texas — In an effort to jump-start his offense, manager Kevin Cash is stacking the top of the Tampa Bay Rays‘ lineup with right-handed hitters and dropping second baseman Brandon Lowe to fifth in the order for Saturday night’s Game 4 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I like the mix [at the top],” Cash said. “We have a disciplined approach there with Yandy [Diaz]. Randy [Arozarena] is the best hitter on the planet right now. Manny [Margot] and [Mike] Brosseau are contact-oriented guys. Brosseau had a tremendous year against left-handed pitching.”

The Rays will face Dodgers lefty Julio Urias in Game 4 as they attempt to tie the series at two games apiece. They’ve struggled on offense all postseason, with Walker Buehler the latest to shut them down in a Game 3 loss on Friday.

Diaz will lead off, followed by righties Arozarena, Brosseau and then Margot. Margot hit just one home run during the regular season.

“I know it’s a little unique with Manny hitting fourth … but it’s a guy that put the ball in play, and hopefully Yandy, Randy or Bross, or two of them, or all three of them, are on base for him,” Cash said.

It’s the first time this season Margot will bat fourth and just the second time Lowe will bat fifth. Lowe struck out three times Friday. Game 3 was the first time all year the Rays started the same lineup in consecutive games, but that’s as long as that batting order lasted.

“We need it to happen tonight,” Cash said of his offense. “There’s a bunch of guys that are fully capable of getting going, and maybe not look for that one big hit but piece together some things.”

After Game 3 on Friday and again before Game 4 on Saturday, Cash stressed the need for the Rays to score early. They’re a major league-best 31-7 when they accomplish that goal this season. Stacking the righties might be their best chance to grab the early lead.

“With Urias, our focus is not doing him any favors on expanding on his arm-side fastballs where he gets a lot of swing up and away,” Cash said. “Put some pressure on him to make some good pitches and be ready to hit.”

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Follow live: Dodgers look to keep offense going vs. Rays in Game 4

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