Steinbrenner confident in Yankees' chances

Managing general partner discusses prospects, A-Rod in radio interviews

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner is confident about his club's chances of competing in the American League East this 2015 season, voicing that optimism in a pair of New York radio interviews on Thursday.

With Opening Day approaching, Steinbrenner called in to both WFAN's Mike Francesa and ESPN Radio's Michael Kay and said that he has been pleased by the overall health of the club, as well as some of the exciting young prospects who have been on display during Spring Training.

"We have a good group of veterans and a good group of young kids, some of which you'll see a lot of this year and next year," Steinbrenner said on WFAN. "Winning is going to solve a lot of problems. I believe in balance. We finally have that balance of veterans and kids to step in."

Steinbrenner mentioned young prospects Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Rob Refsnyder and Luis Severino by name, saying that he considers one or two of those players to be Major League-ready right now.

It is possible, Steinbrenner said, that all four players could see time in The Bronx this season as the Yankees attempt to end their two-year playoff drought. He also said that he understands the expectation that the Yankees will field a team that features recognizable stars.

"We have to win," Steinbrenner told ESPN. "New York expects a winner and so do we. We certainly have marquee players on the team. You're not always going to have a Reggie Jackson like '77. It's important - New York is a star town."

There will be plenty of attention on Alex Rodriguez, who has re-assimilated with the club following a historic drug suspension.

"We haven't even started the season yet," Steinbrenner told WFAN. "As I told him -- I'm not worried about the future right now. I'm worried about another week and a half of Spring Training and then April 6 and then we'll go from there."

Rodriguez has convinced Yankees officials that he could serve as an everyday designated hitter, and Steinbrenner told WFAN that "there are no wounds on my end" with the 39-year-old slugger.

"I think he's done a great job," Steinbrenner said. "He's been positive, he's been out here working hard, he's playing well, and he's been great with the fans and giving back to fans and signing autographs and spending time with them.

"It's gone great. Look, our whole goal, as I told him when we met a month or so ago, he's got to get through Spring Training healthy and then he'll be able to contribute to the club."

Steinbrenner said that it was difficult to swallow two Grapefruit League losses to the Mets this spring, but he understands the games do not count in the standings. It has been suggested that George M. Steinbrenner would have reacted differently, and Steinbrenner said that he is not bothered by those inevitable comparisons.

"My dad was great," Steinbrenner told WFAN. "But as I've said from day one, my dad and I are similar in some ways, we are different in some ways. We just have different personalities. People see me as not passionate; that's certainly not the case. I may hide it a little bit better, try to control it a little bit better."

Steinbrenner also strongly reiterated to both outlets that his family is not interested in selling the team.

"I love my '67 Firebird, but how many can I buy?" Steinbrenner told ESPN. "It's not us. No, it's not enticing in any way, shape or form. It's a family business. Many of us are involved from the family and we know this is what our dad would want, to carry on the tradition. We're not going anywhere."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.