NEW YORK (AP) – New place. Same quest.

After failing for the eighth straight season to win a World Series, after a flop that ended 13 consecutive years of playoff appearances, the New York Yankees packed up and moved across 161st Street.

When the play their home opener against Cleveland on April 16, instead of being in the historic House that Ruth Built, they’ll be in the House that George Built, a $1.5 billion palace of restaurants, shops and every baseball luxury one could imagine.

“It definitely feels awkward. If definitely feels weird. It will take time,” Andy Pettitte said. “Everything’s different.”

New York’s clubhouse stretches from home plate to the right-field corner. There’s a double-batting cage near home plate, a high-tech video room off the dugout steps. On the other side of the clubhouse are alternative dressing stalls away from prying reporters, a Hydro room with a pool and a Swimex, a trainer’s room as big as the clubhouse in the old ballpark and a weight room any gym would love to have.

And, of course, after slumping to an 89-73 record and third-place finish in the AL East, the Yankees filled their polished new oval clubhouse with polished new players, spending $423.5 million to sign free agents CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira.

“I guess I can sit up here and say that if we don’t win a World Series, we’ve let our fans down,” said Hal Steinbrenner, who replaced his famous father George as the team’s controlling partner during the offseason. “That’s certainly the mentality of everybody in this organization and everybody in my family.”

Since winning the 2000 World Series for their third straight title and fourth and five years, the Yankees have been mostly in reverse. They lost Game 7 of the 2001 World Series in the ninth inning against Arizona, were knocked out by the Angels in the first round in 2002, then lost the 2003 Series to Florida in six games. In the 2004 AL championship, they became the first major league baseball team to wasted a 3-0 series lead in a best-of-seven series, falling to Boston, then they were eliminated in the first round three straight times.

That caused them to offer Joe Torre just a one-year contract. When he walked away, Joe Girardi was brought in. Girardi’s Yankees didn’t even make the playoffs in his first season.

In the glow of spring, and perhaps the syrupy excitement of moving into the new ballpark, Girardi is positive going into his second season.

“We’re more athletic than we were last year. I think we’re a better defensive club than we were last year. Our rotation is much deeper than it was last year,” he said. “We have a chance to be very, very good.”

When the season opens Monday in Baltimore, Alex Rodriguez will be missing. The three-time AL MVP became a one-man disruption force, first admitting that he used banned steroids from 2001-03 while with Texas. Then, a hip injury that became evident last year got worse after he arrived at spring training. A-Rod had surgery that will sideline him until mid-May, leaving Cody Ransom as his replacement at third base.

Rodriguez also has become a staple of the tabloid front and gossip pages for various sordid allegations involving his social life.

“He represents the Yankees well. I have no doubt that he will continue to do so,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “Nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. I think the important thing in life that anybody should learn to do is admit they made a mistake, apologize for it, mean it, and he’s done all those things. It’s time to move on. It’s time to start concentrating on winning a championship this year.”

New York’s downfall last year was an offense that dropped from a major league-leading 968 runs in 2007 to 789 last season. Hideki Matsui needed knee surgery, Jorge Posada had shoulder surgery, Robinson Cano’s bat wilted and Melky Cabrera was so bad he lost the center field job.

Pitching, too, was suspect. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy were counted on to be the back end of the rotation. Hampered by injuries, they combined to go 0-8. Ace Chien-Ming Wang hurt a foot while running the bases at Houston in June, finishing his season.

“We know we didn’t play up to our capabilities last year,” left fielder Johnny Damon said. “We failed to hit with runners in scoring position, and I think that was our ultimate demise. Now we went out and got three of the top free agents. Mark Teixeira brings a Gold Glove presence at first, a switch-hitter. The two pitchers we got I feel like could be the two best around. They can stop rallies. They can, you know, shut down the other team and give us a chance to come back. And it feels like we’re getting two more free agents with Chien-Ming Wang and Jorge Posada. We’re going to be good.”

Mariano Rivera, back from offseason shoulder surgery, is impressed by all the changes.

“Since we won the 2000 World Series, I think we haven’t had a rotation like this,” he said. “So, hopefully, we take advantage of it.”

If they don’t, Girardi probably won’t be allowed back for the third and final season of his contract.

“I haven’t even thought about it, to be honest with you,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “You know, as far as I’m concerned, we’re going to make the playoffs. Our fans expect that every year, and we expect that every year and my dad expects that every year. So we’re going into this very, very positively, on a good note. We’re healthy, we’re firing on all cylinders. … We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, if we come to it, but I’m not expecting we will.”


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