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Romine eyes chance to learn behind McCann

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Austin Romine's chances at making the Yankees' Opening Day roster seemingly took a hit when they signed catcher Brian McCann early this offseason, but Romine is taking the optimistic approach as Spring Training draws near.

"First of all, it's a business. Second of all, I thought it was awesome," the 25-year-old catcher said Tuesday outside the Yanks' Minor League complex. "I get a chance to study and be under a guy that's been an All-Star forever. You'd be stupid not to pick his brain and learn something. I see it as a great opportunity to learn more about this game from a guy that's been around for a long time. I'm actually really excited."

With McCann signed to a five-year deal to be New York's front-line catcher, Romine will compete for the reserve role this spring, alongside Francisco Cervelli and JR Murphy. Romine got his first extended look in the Majors last year, hitting .207/.255/.296 in 148 plate appearances over 60 games. His season ended on Sept. 10, when he was sidelined by a concussion after being hit with a foul ball.

Romine said the symptoms stuck around until about a week after the season ended, but he began working out shortly after that. Another doctor cleared him just before he returned to Florida to begin precamp workouts. While he was back home, Romine said he got in "the best shape I've been in in a while" by working out with his brother, who focused on making the 6-foot, 215-pound backstop quicker on his feet.

Romine said he started going through catching and throwing drills Tuesday, and he plans to catch a few bullpen sessions Wednesday. With Yankees pitchers and catchers set to report Friday and work out Saturday, Romine's battle for the backup-catcher job is about to begin.

"Anyone that told you that they didn't want to be a starting catcher is lying to you. That's my goal. That's been my goal since I was a little kid. Everybody wants to be a starting catcher," Romine said. "Right now, the backup job's open, so that's what you focus on. You get to be behind a guy that's done it all and learn some stuff, and maybe they'll give you a chance."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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