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Joe Girardi changes uniform number to keep New York Yankees focused on a 28th World Series title

CC Sabathia delivers on the first day of training camp for the Yankees, on a quest to win their 28th world championship.

Associated Press

CC Sabathia delivers on the first day of training camp for the Yankees, on a quest to win their 28th world championship.

TAMPA — Jorge Posada may have been a part of five Yankees World Series championship teams, but it didn't stop him from watching the commemorative video of last year's title five times during the offseason.

"I loved it," he said. "Being on top of the world means a lot."

It's a place the Yankees have grown accustomed to, with 27 World Series titles, and a place they plan to stay, as their main focus is repeating the feat this season. They have done it before, winning three straight World Series from 1998-2000, and believe they have the talent to do it again.

Manager Joe Girardi said his uniform switch from No. 27 to 28 will serve as a daily reminder of their goal. The theme of his first meeting with the team next week will be, "It all starts over."

"That's the message, we're not complacent," Girardi said. "We do want to move forward and try to win No. 28 for this organization and the great city of New York, because we have a wonderful group here, we have wonderful fans here. … As far as this organization, you're expected to win every year."

What a difference a year makes. When Yankees camp opened last spring, a team still stinging from missing the playoffs was engulfed by questions surrounding Alex Rodriguez's use of performance-enhancing drugs. But on Wednesday afternoon, Girardi comfortably sat under the same pavilion Rodriguez used for his mea culpa news conference last February and fielded just one A-Rod question in his half-hour session.

Girardi said Rodriguez's "controversy" helped bring his team together, but he conceded, "It is nice to just talk about baseball."

There were plenty of topics, many about the Yankees' big offseason acquisitions: All-Star outfielder Curtis Granderson, DH Nick Johnson and right-hander Javier Vazquez, who will be New York's No. 4 starter behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte.

They also have to answer a few questions, from sorting out their lineup, which lost Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, to figuring out who will be their fifth starter (likely Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes, with the other going back to the bullpen). They'll also have to decide how to mix Granderson and Brett Gardner between center and leftfield, where they will split time this spring.

While another ongoing question was about warding off complacency as defending champs, Girardi said he's not concerned. "Complacency comes down to character," he said. "And I really like the character of our club."

Girardi said that with the new faces, and losing guys such as Damon and Matsui, they'll have to try to find that same chemistry that proved huge last season.

And when it comes to winning No. 28, it is easier said than done.

"It's probably the toughest thing to try to do it again," Posada said. "Everybody plays you a little different when we come to town. You have to be ready, because they're trying to get you. You're the world champions and they're trying to play a little better. It's very challenging."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Joe Girardi changes uniform number to keep New York Yankees focused on a 28th World Series title 02/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 11:30pm]
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