TAMPA, Fla. -- David Robertson had a few years to sit by Mariano Rivera's side in the bullpen, soaking up as much information as possible before watching the all-time saves leader jog through the outfield to do his work in the ninth inning.
So it meant a lot to Robertson when Rivera gave him his stamp of approval as the next Yankees closer, saying that he is a capable successor and ready for the job. He also knows that the first time a blown save costs the Yankees a game, Rivera won't bite his tongue.
"I'm sure that he'll have plenty of advice for me after I blow one, then he'll be all over my case about it," Robertson said with a laugh. "He'll probably show up in the clubhouse."
Robertson sat next to Rivera at the Baseball Writers Association of America awards dinner last month in New York and said Rivera "basically made fun of me the whole time, like he always does."
"First thing he says at the writers dinner: 'You nervous?'" Robertson recalled. "And I'm like, 'No. We're not even in spring yet.' But that's just Mo. He's been on my case, in a good way, for the last couple of years. And it's been a lot of fun. It's been a great learning curve."
Robertson does not look at the closer's role as much different from the setup role he had been filling in the eighth, since the most important thing is to record three outs and get off the field.
Still, he has thought about trying to use the low-pressure environment of Spring Training as a way to prepare for what he'll experience in April.
"I'm going to have to try and make pitches that I might not make in the eighth inning -- pitch in on guys, throw breaking balls in different counts, changeups, all sorts of things," he said. "[I should] learn to control the zone a little better.
"I'm definitely going to have to cut down on walks. I know I did a little better job of that last year, but I'd still like to cut down even more. That's going to be the biggest thing, trying to make better pitches in spring and getting myself more prepared for when we get to Yankee Stadium and a real game is on the line."
Jeter 'feeling great' in precamp workouts
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees announced on Friday that Derek Jeter will discuss his decision to retire after the 2014 season on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, Jeter continued his precamp workouts on Friday at the club's Minor League complex alongside a new arrival: second baseman Brian Roberts.
Jeter went through his usual routine, taking batting practice and fielding ground balls at shortstop, with Roberts at second base and Kelly Johnson on hand to work out at third. Jeter and Roberts played together during the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and the captain said it was nice to work with Roberts again.
Jeter said he is "feeling great" and has no concerns about his health or his left ankle heading into the season. But he declined to talk about his retirement, repeating several times that he'll do so on Wednesday.
Across Dale Mabry Highway at George M. Steinbrenner Field, several Yankees reacted to the news that Jeter's 20th season in the Majors will be his last. CC Sabathia and David Robertson weren't surprised considering Jeter's injury-plagued 2013 campaign, but Robertson didn't think Jeter would announce it so far ahead of time.
"I'm really glad he's going to make sure to give the fans a chance to come out this year and see him in his final season," Robertson said. "It's kind of hard to put into words what it means to take the field with Derek. There's been so many other great players here, too, but Derek's been ... He's the Yankee captain, the face of this franchise."
"Saddened, I guess, that he's not going to be around," Sabathia added. "You want a guy like that to play forever, but what he's done for the game and this organization, he's one of the best players, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I'm just happy I got a chance to play with him."
Whereas many of the current Yankees went through a similar farewell tour last season for Mariano Rivera, new catcher Brian McCann was with the Braves for Chipper Jones' last season in Atlanta, in 2012. McCann would have liked to play with Jeter for more than just one year but is excited to be along for the ride.
"The guy's done everything in the game of baseball that you could possibly do. He's been the face of baseball since he broke in. He's won five championships," McCann said. "It's a great experience. I went through it with one Hall of Famer, and I'm going to go through it with another."
McCann not looking to assume leadership role
TAMPA, Fla. -- Asked on Friday about all of the new faces in the clubhouse this season, CC Sabathia said he is looking forward to playing with all of them. But he quickly singled out the one new player he's really excited -- "ecstatic," to use his word -- about having onboard: catcher Brian McCann.
"Have you seen him play?" Sabathia asked. "Of course, then. It's exciting to have a guy like that back there, a veteran guy you can bounce ideas off of. And he's going to hit. I think he's going to be great in our ballpark."
McCann, 29, reported to George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday along with the rest of the Yankees' pitchers and catchers, eagerly anticipating the challenge of learning a new pitching staff after spending his first nine seasons with the Braves. He received an iPad stocked full of video of New York's pitchers and some American League East hitters only a few days after signing his five-year, $85 million deal in November.
"That's the great thing about technology these days," McCann said. "I've seen it. Now I just want to get to know everybody and what their mind-set is.
"It's definitely going to be different. I look at it as a challenge. It's exciting to get to know guys. I've just got to put in extra time, that's it. That's all I'm going to have to do is put some extra time in and get to know the people."
McCann was regarded as a leader in the Braves' clubhouse following Chipper Jones' retirement, but he isn't necessarily looking to take on a similar role with the Yankees.
"I think sometimes that word gets thrown around, like you have to have this or you have to have that," he said. "I'm not a big guy where you're set in your ways. If you can get 25 guys pulling in one direction, you're going to win a lot more ballgames," he said. "I think here you've got veteran guys that know how to play the game. You show up every day and you play hard -- that's a leader to me.
"It's someone that sets good examples for the young guys. Go from there. I just feel like sometimes, when Chipper left last year, it was like, 'We need to have a leader.' But if you get guys that show up and play hard ... If something needs to be said, you say it."