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Yankees, Mets are steps behind Red Sox in ticket refund policy

While the Yankees and Mets may very well perform better on the field than the Red Sox in this truncated 2020 season, the New York duo currently trails its neighbor to the north in a vital category: Customer service.

The Yankees and Mets both updated their 2020 ticket policies on Wednesday, granting refunds or (their preference) credit for tickets to games scheduled through June. Fans who desire refunds must go through a process to expedite that; if they don’t act, they’ll get credit for future purchases.

The Red Sox, however, announced on June 23 — the day commissioner Rob Manfred resolved to unilaterally implement a 60-day schedule — that “(A)ll tickets previously purchased for the 2020 season will no longer be valid.” People who purchased their tickets directly from the Red Sox, the team added, “have been given the option of either a refund or an account credit.”

Major League Baseball intends to begin its regular season on July 23 without paying fans at their ballparks. While they haven’t ruled out the return of patrons at some point, even the best-case scenario calls for a limited number of people entering the stadiums. The worst-case scenario, of course, calls for the still-thriving coronavirus to cancel the campaign before it even begins.

Yankees and Mets fans must wait out these different scenarios whereas Red Sox fans can settle all 2020 business right now.

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Yankees’ World Series-or-bust mentality hasn’t been dampened by coronavirus

Aaron Boone fully understands that what MLB is attempting to do with a 60-game season is completely different.

The coronavirus made spring training vanish on March 12 and ravaged the tri-state area. It has made a comeback in other parts of the country and could force big-league baseball to be shut down again.

When Boone addresses his players in person for the first time in person since March, as he will Saturday at Yankee Stadium, he will do so in groups to make sure the 50-plus players are social distancing.

He will stress that the players need to hold each other accountable with what they do on the field with effort and off it by attempting to remain safe. The third-year manager will deliver a list of protocols the players need to adhere to, some that will force severe adjustments to their routines.

Boone will be aware of how this week’s tests for COVID-19 went and reiterate the seriousness of trying to first get ready during spring training 2.0 and then navigate a two-month season during a pandemic.

Yet, one chapter of Boone’s message remains the same: If a World Series is played the Yankees expect to win it.

“I feel comfortable with this part is, hey, the reason we are here now doesn’t change. From our goal at the start of spring training with a team we got together here, with a team that has been on the brink and knocked on the door for a few years, with a team with unfinished business. I do feel like we are still a very hungry group and we want to climb to the top of the mountain,’’ Boone said Wednesday on a conference call. “Because circumstances have changed and certainly this season has changed, that goal hasn’t changed. We want to be champions and I know our guys feel the same way. That will be the message that will constantly be enforced.’’

With intake testing going on Wednesday at the Stadium, a bevy of players surfaced. Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Brett Gardner, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, Clint Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and Clarke Schmidt were spotted entering the facility.

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Yankees’ Brian Cashman knows coronavirus could change MLB’s blueprint

Having a blueprint is paramount to any project, but like anything else MLB’s plan to complete a 60-game schedule and dive into a postseason has colossal hurdles.

“That is the intent and we are about to find out,’’ Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday on a conference call when asked about executing the plan. “It’s a very extensive document, all designed to put us in the best position to find success and have success. Like America and the rest of the world, the effort is to get back to something as close to where you had been prior as soon as you possibly can. And do so with safety and limitations and we are going to try that. I can’t predict how it is going to play out but we look forward to trying.’’

The early steps to get ready for a July 23 Opening Day game against the defending World Series champion Nationals in Washington have been testing players and staff for the coronavirus at Yankee Stadium this week. Cashman said the earliest the Yankees would hold the first full workout would be Friday and the latest on Saturday.

There could be a small group working out Friday and that possibly could include pitchers Gerrit Cole and Adam Ottavino who have been throwing bullpen sessions at Yankee Stadium for a few weeks.

“I do not expect all our players to be here because some of them have more challenges than others in terms of where they are coming from,’’ Cashman said. “Departures from certain countries are more easy than others. So people’s arrivals are staggered and their intake testing staggered and that doesn’t even involved anybody that obviously might become COVID. In terms of a full complement of a roster it is to be determined.’’

Cashman, who can’t identify players who have or will test positive for COVID-19 per MLB rules, said people in the organization have tested positive. The Post reported on June 20 four members of the organization tested positive in Tampa. If a player isn’t available, Cashman said, “We might not be able to say why. That’s my understanding as of right now. It’s an emerging situation.’’

Cashman has been busy constructing a 58-man roster, getting the Stadium ready for full-scale workouts despite logistically it would have been better to hold spring training 2.0 in Tampa where they would have had use of Steinbrenner Field and the nearby minor league complex. However, a spike in positive tests on Florida’s West Coast forced the move to The Bronx where workouts could include pitchers throwing in the Great Hall.

Cashman has also been talking to other clubs about the possibility of playing three exhibition games toward the end of spring training 2.0 (likely against the Mets) and other chores in MLB’s altered world.

However, none tops dealing with whatever COVID-19 delivers.

“The toughest challenges? I think obviously how we are going to handle the pandemic, COVID environment we are operating in,’’ Cashman said. “Been accustomed over course of time to dealing with injuries as they manifest themselves, but if we have a game tomorrow and your starter shows up and he has a temperature and all of a sudden has symptoms out of the blue right before the start and how do you adjust along the way. And then the connectivity to that and obviously the roster you have to deal with.’’

As for paying big-league employees and minor league players, the Yankees are continuing their month-to-month assessment. As of Tuesday no big-league staffers had their salaries reduced or were furloughed and the team continued to pay the minor leaguers a stipend.

According to Cashman, none of the Yankee players or coaches have informed the club they won’t participate in spring training 2.0 or the regular season.

“No,’’ Cashman said when asked if players or coaches told the Yankees they would sit out. “That doesn’t mean it is not possible. If that changes we will adjust the roster.’’

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Yankees in prime position to take advantage of delayed MLB start: Sherman

Never in major league history have teams been more challenged to keep players healthy.

There will be the familiar strains and sprains, exacerbated by the unique environment of a spring training 2.0 condensed to three weeks. In a normal year, injuries, specifically soft-tissue injuries (think hamstrings, obliques) are highest in the first month of a season. A 2017 research article from the American Journal of Sports Medicine found the highest frequency of elbow injuries for pitchers is in March, so mainly during the standard training season.

But in 2020 there is nothing normal, nothing standard. Add in: How many players have been overtraining anticipating various restart dates? How many have been trying to set a record for food delivery apps they could use from their couch figuring there would never be a season?

And, of course, there is the coronavirus that has moved MLB to create a distinct COVID-19 Related Injured List, which many teams anticipate using from the outset of camp to isolate those who test positive or might have been in contact with someone who has.

If there is a season — huge “if,” still — whoever can keep the most players healthy for 60 games in 66 days (again nothing normal/standard this year) will gain an edge. A 15-game injury goes from a player missing less than 10 percent of a 162-game schedule to missing 25 percent this year.

So just showing up to camp with more viable candidates is beneficial. The larger the pool for teams to pick from the better. And no club had more key players regain health during the shutdown than the Yankees, in part because no club was going to begin the year with as many big names on the injured list.

Brian Cashman expressed optimism Tuesday about having Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery), Aaron Judge (fractured rib) and Giancarlo Stanton (calf) on the Opening Day roster, the same for James Paxton (back surgery). That represents one-third of a lineup and the No. 2 starter behind Gerrit Cole, which is even more vital with Luis Severino (Tommy John) out for the year.

Proviso alert: Judge, Stanton and Paxton have long injury histories and the susceptible will probably be even more vulnerable under these conditions. But the Yankees will begin this spring training healthier than they ended the last.

The Mets, meanwhile, are a one-step forward, one-back outfit. Yoenis Cespedes (heels, ankles) should be ready and it is going to be intriguing how much he has left after so much lost time. But after the shutdown the Mets learned they had lost Noah Syndergaard to Tommy John surgery. Similarly, the Red Sox should have outfielder Alex Verdugo (back), a key return from the Dodgers for Mookie Betts, but lost Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery.

The Tigers’ Michael Fulmer, the main return from the Mets when they obtained Cespedes in 2015, also is now ready to start spring training as a full-go after missing last year following Tommy John surgery. As a player not owed much money (roughly $1 million for a 60-game season) and not eligible for free agency until after the 2022 campaign, the righty becomes one of the more likely trade candidates (deadline Aug. 31) with Detroit rebuilding.

Which other teams benefited from getting healthier during the shutdown:

1. Angels: Shohei Ohtani, who did not pitch last season following Tommy John surgery, would not have begun on time in 2020 and would have been limited in innings. Now, he is on time, and even if he makes 12 starts, it is unlikely he would get beyond 75 regular-season innings. The Angels’ playoff chances rest on a healthy rotation, so having Ohtani and Griffin Canning (elbow) from the outset is significant.

2. Cardinals: If the season began on time, St. Louis would have been without starter Miles Mikolas (elbow) and relievers Andrew Miller (finger numbness) and Jordan Hicks (Tommy John). Mikolas and Miller are healthy. If Hicks can return in, say, August he might be able to provide his triple-digit fastball for more than half of this season.

3. White Sox: This is one of the wildest wild cards in the 60-game sprint. Chicago has captivating young possibilities (Eloy Jimenez, Nick Madrigal, Luis Robert), which it augmented with free agents such as Edwin Encarnacion, Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel. Michael Kopech (Tommy John) is a potential pivot player. He should be a full-go now, and if the fireballer joins Lucas Giolito and Keuchel to form a strong rotation front three, the White Sox are a contender. Plus, Carlos Rodon (Tommy John) also appears all the way back now to provide pitching depth.

4. Astros: They had just one key injury, but it was to Cy Young winner Justin Verlander (groin surgery), whose presence is all the more important because Cole, the Cy Young runner-up, is now a Yankee. Verlander is considered a full-go for spring training, as is Lance McCullers Jr., who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery. Other teams benefitting from integral starters being ready now who wouldn’t have been on Opening Day in March include Atlanta (Cole Hamels), Cleveland (Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger) and Minnesota (Rich Hill).

5. Reds: Like the White Sox, they are an intriguing wild card. Eugenio Suarez, who hit 49 homers last season, had offseason shoulder surgery and would not have been ready if the season began in late March. Now, he goes to third base, which allows the Reds to more comfortably use Mike Moustakas at second base or DH.

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Johnny Damon on why Yankees didn’t win again after 2009: ‘I wasn’t there’

Johnny Damon never wanted to leave the Yankees after winning the World Series in 2009. But he, along with World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, were goners after not getting the money they wanted. And in Damon’s eyes, that’s why the Yankees couldn’t win another championship in the years following title No. 27.

“I knew why they couldn’t get it done. I wasn’t there,” Damon said recently on the “Break a Bat” podcast. “Matsui wasn’t there. At least one of us should’ve been there. You just had a different feel for them.”

After the 2009 season, the talk was that Damon wanted the same $13 million a season he had just made with the Yankees the previous four years. The Yankees didn’t want to pay Damon that, and as the offseason went on, the signings of Nick Johnson and Randy Winn ultimately left no room for Damon, who said not being brought back was “crushing.” Here’s what Damon says now about what transpired.

“I really wanted to come back. They ended up offering a contract, and I just wanted to talk a little bit,” Damon said on the podcast. “My agent (said,) ‘You only have five minutes to take it.’ I was like, ‘Why do I have five minutes? Let me see what they’re thinking.’ They wanted to cut my salary in half, and I was like, ‘why don’t we cut it by 30 percent?’ I’ll be happy with that. I know I’m getting older, my outfield isn’t as great as it was. So I was saying ‘OK, 30 percent cut.’ Then Nick Johnson signed and I’m like, ‘Man, yeah, he might have a great on-base percentage, but I can score from anywhere and I was a team leader.’

“I don’t know. Winning the World Series and all of a sudden, you’re out. But I get it. It’s a business. It really stinks, but I get it. They haven’t won since and that’s the shame of it, because Matsui and I, you never had to change the lineup. With a right-hander or left-hander, the lineup was the same the entire time. They ended up replacing us with [Brett] Gardner and [Curtis] Granderson, and yes, very good players, but they’d hit one and two against a right-hander, and with a left-hander they’ll hit six and nine, or one would play and one wouldn’t. So your lineup changes every single day. I’ll tell you, that’s super hard as a player. Even though the baseball nerds, sabermetric guys, they think it shouldn’t matter, but it matters a lot.”

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Damon, 46, was a part of the Red Sox’s curse-breaking 2004 World Series team. When asked whether he was more of a Yankee or Red Sock, he spoke more favorably of New York.

“I tell people Boston is like an ex-girlfriend where you wish them well and you loved being a part of it, but you know what, you move on, your life gets great, you marry your trophy wife and you have six more kids. That’s what New York was for me,” Damon said. “I appreciated everything with Boston, and I feel for them. I feel for the fans because even now, they just got rid of their best player, Mookie Betts. It always happens for Boston. Yankee players aren’t necessarily leaving if they don’t have to. Yankee players are going to stay, but Boston – when I came over to New York in 2006, there were only six guys left from the 2004 Red Sox team. … They always look at me and say ‘How could you? How could you?’ Well, all my guys are gone.”

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Yankees and Mets with most on line in 2020 MLB season: Sherman

Clint Frazier would have received a shot, and really, when it comes to his life as a Yankee, what more could he have asked for?

The outfielding Aarons, Hicks and Judge, were going to be out months if the 2020 season had started on time, and Giancarlo Stanton likely would have begun the year on the injured list as well. The Yankees were looking at a regular outfield to begin the season of Frazier, Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman, with Miguel Andujar thrown in if he had proven capable of adjusting away from third base.

Frazier could have forced the Yanks to start him more even as healthy players returned. He could have re-established his value to become more desirable in a trade so he could liberate himself from New York’s bat glut and truly start his career.

Now, Yankees camp will open Wednesday with Hicks and Stanton expected to be full goes and Judge trending toward being ready for the 60-game sprint. All three are fragile — then again, so is Frazier. At this moment, Frazier’s path is blocked not just for starting time, but backup play. The Yanks will have an outfield/DH overflow with Gardner, Hicks, Judge, Stanton, Tauchman, Andujar, Mike Ford and Luke Voit.

Frazier doesn’t play first or third (like Andujar) and, thus, even with 30-man rosters for the first few weeks, the righty might not even make the team. Three months ago — especially because he was hitting so well in the exhibition season — a case could have been made that for no Yankee (perhaps no New York player) was starting well more vital. Now, he is looking at being on a taxi squad earning no major league at-bats or service time.

With just 60 games (if MLB is fortunate), the start of the season is kind of the season. So who is it most important for in New York?

1. Yoenis Cespedes: If the season broke wrong for Frazier, it has broken ideally for Cespedes. He would not have started a standard season healthy. Now, he is a full go and the NL will have the DH. Perhaps, having made $130 million-plus, he will not find motivation. But he actually now has a chance to demonstrate worth for 2021 if he can still be an impact hitter. It will be fascinating to see what he has after so much time away.

2. James Paxton: See Cespedes. He would not have started the season healthy with free agency looming. With the financial hit on the industry this season, teams are expecting that the upcoming market is going to be tougher for even a great player such as Mookie Betts. Can the fragile Paxton stay healthy for 12 starts (plus postseason if the Yanks get there) to improve his value? Masahiro Tanaka and likely J.A. Happ also will be free agents out of the Yankees’ rotation.

3. Brodie Van Wagenen: There is a strong sense that a new owner is coming for the Mets. Will he want to keep his inherited GM? Luis Rojas has yet to manage a game and would be on the clock too in this scenario.

4. Gerrit Cole: He has a much smaller window to make a strong first impression. The Yanks’ magic number to win the AL East dwindles with 12 elite starts from Cole.

5. Edwin Diaz: In a 60-game season, each game is equivalent of roughly 2.7 games of a normal schedule. So imagine blowing one of them when you already are starting so far behind with the fan base. Empty stadiums will eliminate the booing, not the pressure.

6. DJ LeMahieu: The industry did not fully understand his value out of Colorado after the 2018 season, and he wound up with a two-year, $24 million pact. He was looking at way more than that after this season in a pandemic-free world. Now?

7. Jacob deGrom: Due to a late start in his career age-wise, deGrom’s Hall of Fame chances are not going to be about accumulation. He essentially needs six more seasons as good as his first six. A third straight Cy Young would be huge. Here is my favorite scenario: He does that by going 12-0 this year, giving him more wins in a 60-game season than in either of his two Cy Young campaigns.

8. Gary Sanchez: Through 60 games last year he was tied for the AL home run lead. But he has been on the injured list four times in the past two seasons, all for lower-body problems. The Yanks do not have the steady comfort of Austin Romine as his backup any longer. Can Kyle Higashioka handle the workload if Sanchez misses time? Missing, for example, 15 games now is 25 percent of the season. Will he ever prove to be a sturdy, steady excellent performer?

9. Marcus Stroman: Another guy who is going to have to find his way in the upcoming tighter free-agent market, like teammates Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. Stroman and Paxton could be looking at the same suitors. Their past three years: Stroman has a 3.65 ERA and 10 Wins Above Replacement, Paxton is 3.54 and 9.3. Who handles the shortened season better?

10. Deivi Garcia: For the Yankees, put Mike King, Jonathan Loaisiga and Clarke Schmidt into this as well. The Yanks are unlikely to bring back all from Happ, Paxton and Tanaka next year (if I were a betting man, I’d go with Tanaka as the most probable return). They will be looking for cheap rotation alternatives to join Cole, and the Yanks are hoping for a combination of Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino. Who from the Yanks’ group of interesting young arms receive innings and make the most of it to prove they belong for 2021?

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