WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Andy Pettitte isn't entertaining the national thought that the New York Yankees might be as weak this year as they've been in more than a decade. By the time October rolls around, the veteran lefty expects the Yankees will be competing for their 28th championship.
"I don't let my mind go in that direction because I think we're going to win our division and I expect us to be in the World Series. Bottom line," Pettitte said Saturday before the Yankees played their final exhibition game against Army at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. "I think we got the pitching and bullpen to do that and I feel like if people think we're going to be short on scoring runs, we're going to figure out how to score enough runs to me. To me, I feel great about our club."
While the Yankees usually enter every season as one of the top picks in the AL to go to the World Series, prognosticators have as low expectations for this Yankees team as they've had in quite some times. Many predictions are listing the Yankees to miss the playoffs and finish near the bottom of the division, which hasn't happened in quite some time. The Yankees have won three of the last four AL East titles, including last year, and have finished first or second in the division in 19 of the past 20 seasons.
The main reason for the low expectations for the Yankees is injuries, as the team has been ravaged heading into Monday's opener against Boston. Starting third baseman Alex Rodriguez (hip), shortstop Derek Jeter (ankle), first baseman Mark Teixeira (wrist), center fielder Curtis Granderson (forearm) and pitcher Phil Hughes (back) will all begin the season on the disabled list. That quartet of hitters combined for 100 home runs last year, while Hughes won 16 games.
Those injuries, along with the departures of starting catcher Russell Martin (Pittsburgh) and right fielder Nick Swisher (Cleveland), have left the Yankees searching for bats wherever they can find them. The Yankees recently traded for outfielder Vernon Wells, and first baseman Lyle Overbay will make the team even though he's been with the squad for less than a week.
Despite the injuries and losses, the team is remaining optimistic. Opening Day starter CC Sabathia said the low expectations don't weigh on him and he expects the pitching staff to perform well. General manager Brian Cashman said all teams have injuries and the Yankees have to persevere through the tough times.
"Right now with what we're going through it's easy to say, hey they're down and out. I understand that. That's the easy thing to do. Our job is not to find the easy road. Our job is to say, 'Hey, we might have some guys down but don't count us out,'" Cashman said. "Our job is to make sure we find a way and I've repeated this a few times already, we need to find a way to survive and thrive despite what's occurred. That's what good baseball teams do.
"We're just going to go forward and fight and find a way. That's what we intend to do. We have a lot of players here that believe in themselves and believe in each other and we know our competition is fierce and tough and hungry. We've made a lot of enemies the last 20 years People want to take advantage if we're down. Our job is to say we're not down. Our job is to prove we're not down. Our job is to find a way and we expect to do that."