OAKLAND, Calif., April 2 — Almost immediately after a team wins the World Series, every player gets a commemorative T-shirt. The Yankees decided to hand out theirs the day before the season.
During their scouting meeting at the Coliseum on Sunday, every Yankees player received two T-shirts referring to the team's goal for this season. The operative number is 27. The Yankees, you may have heard, have been stuck on 26 titles since 2000.
One shirt is gray, with a pinstriped No. 27 looming over the NY logo on the front, and "One Team, One Mission" on the back. The other is navy blue, with the 2006 schedule on the back beneath the words "257 days, 37 weeks, 9 months." On the front, with the NY logo, are the words "Mission 27."
General Manager Brian Cashman said that every member of the organization would receive a shirt, though the styles would not be available to the public. The contracts of Gary Sheffield and Mike Mussina expire after this season, and the Yankees have one of the oldest rosters in the majors. If ever a team were built to win now, it is this one.
"We've talked about it — there are lots of clocks that are on," Alex Rodriguez said. "Contract clocks, age clocks. I think the urgency is at an all-time high this year, and that's good. It's exciting."
Rodriguez will bat cleanup Monday against Barry Zito and the Oakland Athletics, as long as the forecasted rain does not get in the way. (The game could be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader Tuesday.)