Yankees manager Aaron Boone huddles with Post columnist Steve Serby for some Q&A covering expectations, the addition of Gerrit Cole and the Astros’ scandal.

Q: What do you hope the mindset of your team will be?
A: We’re focused on being champions, and that’s the kind of singular mindset I want these guys to have coming in. We’ve been knocking on the door now, even going back the year before I was here, so these guys have tasted big successes, have tasted postseason success, have tasted postseason failure, they’ve been through a lot. We got the scars to prove it. But I think everyone understands what’s at stake. I feel like we’re a team that has championship intangibles. We just haven’t been able to push through yet, and we’re hoping that this is that year. But it’s also a long way to go, too. We’ve gotta make sure we’re taking care of our business and making sure we’re taking care of the details and kind of laying that foundation to go out and have a successful season and put ourselves in a position to do something special in October.

Q: What championship intangibles are you referring to?
A: I just feel like we have a group that’s very hungry. I feel like, to a man, it’s about winning. There’s not a lot of selfish motives in our clubhouse. I feel like these guys are tough. I feel like we have a lot of those qualities. I certainly felt that way last year, and that’s why it was such a difficult ending. I think we felt even all the way to the end that we were gonna get there, we were gonna find a way. So nothing’s changed in that department, but it’s also a new year too, and you’ve gotta continue to not take that stuff for granted.

Q: How do you manage these great expectations for your team?
A: Well, we embrace ’em. We certainly don’t run from ’em. I think we have the kind of guys that are equipped to handle all that comes with these kind of expectations. We try and prepare ourselves as best we can and put guys in position as best we can to be able to meet those expectations. You do it by grinding away each and every day, but also embracing the expectations that come.

Q: What is your biggest challenge or concern?
A: Obviously last year was a year in which we dealt with a lot of health issues, but also had a lot of people step up and got some really good answers on a number of people that were required to step in and contribute. My concerns are just the day to day. My focus right now is on spring training. Spring training entails trying to get individuals ready. We’re not trying to win games, obviously, down here, we’re trying to get individuals ready, and everyone’s a little but different. Some guys are coming off injury, some guys are veterans that you’re gonna slow-play a little bit more in spring. Some guys are trying to compete a little bit more for a job. So my focus right now is on making sure we’re getting the proper work in behind the scenes as far as our defensive work, our work in the weight room, and in the bullpen, in the batting cage, all those things, that we’re paying attention and really making sure we’re getting after it each and every day so that we can lay that foundation that puts us in a good position to go out and potentially win a championship.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone
Yankees manager Aaron BooneCharles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Q: Does being manager of the Yankees get the competitive juices flowing inside you, and is it a fun job?
A: Oh, I love it. I love it every day. Getting to work for the Steinbrenner family, for [general manager] Brian Cashman and the relationship I have with the front office and my coaching staff and my staff overall, I can honestly say I look forward to going to work every single day, even when it’s a little rough, or you’re going through a rough patch, or you’re facing some adversity, it’s a lot of people that I want to go through that with. As far as the juices flowing, absolutely. We want to go out and be a champion, and it adds for a lot of motivation when you know what that prize is.

Q: Describe new pitching coach Matt Blake.
A: We went through a pretty extensive process, interviewed quite a few candidates, and came away feeling really good about him and his potential, his content, his understanding of pitching, what we believe is his ability to relate to guys with that content. As the offseason’s unfolded, seeing him out the last couple of days out of our minor league complex where a number of guys are already here working out, seeing him interact, I continue to be really excited about his potential in this job. He’s smart, he understands pitching, he understands pitching mechanics, I feel like he can talk it, he can relate with guys and teach and explain.

Q: Director of player health and performance Eric Cressey.
A: I finally met Cressey in person the other day. I feel like he is one of the elite people in this industry at understanding the sports science and the body and strength and conditioning and how it relates to the training side, the medical side of things, and his ability to tie that all in together, I’m really excited about where we are now a couple of months into him kind of leading that endeavor.

Q: What are you expectations for Giancarlo Stanton?
A: I got really high expectations. I think he’s gonna have a great year. I felt that way last year. Obviously the injury bug got him and the second one, when he came back and hurt his knee on kind of a freaky kind of slide into third, I just felt like everything we were seeing from him last year in Year 2 was … just a look he had, a presence he had, his process, his at-bat quality at the start of the season, and then right away when he came back from the injury and then even what we saw at the end of the year in limited play in the postseason, I felt like he was really poised and in a great mental frame of mind to go out and have a huge year, and I feel that way right now. Obviously the key will just be keeping him on the field, but knowing that he’s coming in physically in a really good place.

Q: Aaron Judge?
A: I think he’s one of the best players in the game, and my expectation is that he’s gonna go out and continue to show that. He’s kind of the face of our team and one of the leaders of our club. Really confident that he’ll go out and continue to be that awesome two-way player. Another guy that got hit with a couple of injuries that have cost him a couple of months the last couple of years. Again, do all we can go kind of keep him healthy and watch him go out and have one of those special, special seasons.

Q: Gleyber Torres making the switch back to shortstop?
A: I thought he even took a step forward from the previous year, which was an excellent year as far as defensively. And now, switching him back to a full-time shortstop, which is where he’s played all his life, which is where he came up in the minor leagues as, so it’s a natural position for him. He’s one of those guys that as a great player, most of the time, they want to be great. I think he’s put in a lot of work in the way he prepares in the offseason to get his body ready to go, but also, I feel like his routine going back to last year and now as it continues to evolve in his daily routine, I feel like continues to get better and better, which allows him to have the consistency that we’re gonna need out of him as your everyday shortstop.

Q: No concerns about any footwork issues?
A: No.

Q: With CC Sabathia gone, who fills the leadership void?
A: We’ll see. I feel like we have a number of guys that kind of lead us in different ways, and have a powerful voice in our room, or set the tone with simply how they go about their job. I feel like we’re very much equipped to handle that transition as we lose one of our pillars in that regard. So, I’m not worried about it, and it’s something that I’m sure will naturally happen with different guys kinda stepping into different roles.

Q: Describe Gary Sanchez behind the plate.
A: I think he’s way better than the narrative, and I think he continues to improve at it. I think it’s something that’s really important to him, and I think we’ve seen him grow just in his relationship with pitchers, with his understanding of game-planning and game-calling. And has worked very hard in the last couple of years at his craft, becoming a better receiver. We have a new catching instructor this year, Tanner Swanson, that I think is as good as there is in the sport, and I’m looking forward to their relationship developing to a point where we continue to see Gary continue to make improvements on the defensive side of the ball.

Q: How exciting is it for you knowing you’ve got Gerrit Cole and a healthy Luis Severino poised to return?
A: (Chuckle) Obviously very. In Gerrit we’re seeing a guy in the prime of his career, arguably the best pitcher in the sport right now. Getting to know him a little bit now this winter, and obviously going through the free-agent process, looking forward to continue to get to know the person a little bit more, I feel like he’s another guy that not only brings a great player and a great pitcher between the lines, but also a guy that’s gonna have a positive impact in our clubhouse, in our room, in our culture, which is really important to me. Sevy’s now been through a lot in this game. He’s been a Cy Young candidate, he’s gotten to the big leagues fast, he’s gone through some tough times, he’s gone through some failures, he’s gone through massive successes, he’s gone through an injury-plagued season now, but his talent and determination, coupled with those experiences that he’s had already as a young man, I think will only benefit him going forward, and looking forward to what he’s gonna be able to do for us this year.

Q: What is the state of your bullpen?
A: Bullpen we’re obviously really excited, we got Chappy [Aroldis Chapman] back, signing him back was huge, so we have our closer. We saw what [Zack] Britton was able to do last year, and he’s another year removed from his Achilles injury a couple of years ago. [Adam] Ottavino had a great year and [Tommy] Kahnle had a great year, and we’re excited about what Chad Green brings to the table, and then you add guys like [Luis] Cessa and [Jonathan] Holder, and we’re excited about what Jonathan Loaisiga potentially brings to a bullpen. And also one of the things we’re excited about this spring is kind of that next wave of great pitching prospects that we have that are starting to get close to being a factor. We’ve added four of five elite pitching prospects to our 40-man this year and we’re gonna get a look at them in spring training, and those guys have the potential to impact us maybe at the start of the season, could be at different points of the season.

Q: Your bench?
A: A 26-man this year, so that’s nice to have that extra position player. We feel like we’re gonna have a lot of great options, and a lot of hopefully some interchangeable parts where you’re rotating some guys through the DH spot, whether they’re outfielders, infielders. … We saw what Tyler Wade, and Thairo Estrada were able to do and continue to be excited about their futures. Kyle Higashioka’s gonna get that crack at finally being that backup catcher, and we’re really excited about what he can do in that role. So we feel like we’ll have a bench that on a night in, night out basis, capable of keeping guys fresh. … Hopefully we’re able to reach our potential, not just because of our top 10, 15, 20 guys, but because of the depth of our club through 26 and even beyond that, to 30, 35 guys.

Q: Third base is wide open?
A: Gio [Urshela] last year showed on both sides of the ball what kind of player he is, so I would say he comes in with the job to kind of lose, but we also know what Miguel Andujar was able to do the year before, almost won the Rookie of the Year, we know what kind of a player he is. He’s actually working out at third, first and the outfield here this spring to see what that looks like, to see if that can kinda add to his versatility.

Q: What can DJ LeMahieu do for an encore?
A: (Chuckle) I don’t know, I just want him to go out and be healthy and be himself, and if that’s the case, then I’m confident he’ll go out and have another outstanding year for us.

Q: What is it about Brett Gardner that you admire so much?
A: First, he’s a really good player, and a really good two-way player. The year he’s coming off, where his power really plays, he’s able to take advantage of our ballpark that suits him well. There’s a toughness that he brings day in and day out, kind of that blue-collar mentality. He’s obviously one of the leading voices in our clubhouse, and I think he’s one of the true tone-setters for our team and kind of the grit that these guys have.

Q: Does Clint Frazier fit in anywhere?
A: He certainly gonna have that opportunity. His ceiling is very high. The ability’s there for him to be an impact player. It’s just about him continuing to take advantage of opportunities when they’re there. He’s been working very hard on his game now really since I’ve been here, his work ethic has been very strong.

Q: CC said recently the Yankees would have won the 2017 World Series if the Astros hadn’t stolen signs.
A: Obviously I wasn’t here in ’17, but this is something that kind of rocked the baseball world, and understandably so. I’m just glad it seems like what Major League Baseball has done is to hopefully eliminate that and curtail that and keep it a more fair-playing, a level playing field and eliminate some of the cheating that’s clearly gone on. Because in the end, you only want the game decided between the lines, and I feel like the steps Major League Baseball has taken this winter with some of the penalties, that’ll go a long way in helping to ensure that.

Q: Did you have any suspicions in the past two years?
A: Yeah, I think you always have suspicions. I think the nature of the game the last few years, whether it’s legal sign stealing or the belief that some teams may be doing something that’s not necessarily legal, you never really know. But you’re always trying to guard against those kind of things, and I feel like with some of the penalties Major League Baseball has put in, hopefully that alleviates a lot of those fears that a lot of people have rightfully had.

Q: What did you think of one voter voting against Derek Jeter in the Hall of Fame?
A: Silly. I don’t really like to pay it much mind, though. Every year I feel like on some level we go through this. I think it’s silly and ridiculous, but I also don’t give it that much attention.

Q: What are your thoughts about the Kobe Bryant tragedy?
A: About as sad as it gets. Families now displaced. One of the great athletes of our time, and the relationship that he had with his daughter, and all the stories of the other people on the plane. Just one of those things that’s about as sad as it gets, and just really kind of hurt for all the people involved.

Q: Is anything short of a World Series championship a failure this season?
A: That’s the goal, that’s what we set out to do. I don’t really look at it that way. It’s February right now, we’re coming to spring training with a team capable of being a championship team. That’s our expectation, that’s our focus, that’s what we’re working towards, and I look forward to go and find out what we’re able to do.

Q: What is your message to Yankees fans?
A: Continue to bring it. Continue to be the best fans in the game. We have a great team, and a team that you should be proud to call your own.