DUNEDIN, Fla. — After an offseason that he says was different, Josh Donaldson feels differently to begin this spring. 

He declined to go into specifics, but he began his offseason work earlier than usual. He cited a new “intensity” and “focus” in ensuring he would be ready to go as soon as he arrived at Yankees camp, which would help him be ready to go once the regular season starts. 

Donaldson’s spring training action started Sunday, when the Yankees’ third baseman went 1-for-2 with a single through the right side, a walk and a strikeout in his Grapefruit League opener. 

“I’m ready to go out there and do what’s expected of me,” Donaldson said after the split-squad Yankees’ 9-5 win over the Blue Jays at TD Ballpark. 

Little went as expected last season, when the infielder’s bat disappeared. His .682 OPS was his worst since establishing himself as a major leaguer. The now 37-year-old often looked like a shell of the player who won the AL MVP in 2015. 

Josh Donaldson is ready to put last year’s struggles behind him.
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson is confident he can still be a quality hitter.
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

His defense remained excellent, but he grew into a controversial figure around the team — and was suspended for racial comments MLB deemed “inappropriate” to White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson — and became a target of boos by the end of the season. 

“I took [the struggles] to heart last year,” Donaldson said after hitting .222 with 15 home runs. “Coming in here with the mindset of doing the things that I’ve done before.” 

Like his manager, Donaldson believes being a quality hitter is still within reach. Last week Aaron Boone said it would be “crazy to think that a bounce-back is not in there offensively,” and pointed to the shortened spring training last season that he felt hurt Donaldson. 

Donaldson, too, thinks the lockout and quick start to the 2022 campaign could have set him back. 

“A three-week spring training, kind of getting ready, ramped up, and the unknown of when we were going to get going last year,” Donaldson said. “I feel better today than where I was last year.” 

Donaldson, a Toronto star from 2015-18, received a loud round of applause from Blue Jays fans on Sunday. He did little noteworthy on the afternoon but came out feeling strong. 

Josh Donaldson throws at Yankees spring training on Feb. 20.
Josh Donaldson throws at Yankees spring training on Feb. 20.
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

“You can definitely see that he put a lot of work in the offseason,” said bench coach Carlos Mendoza, who served as acting manager for the road game. “Physically he looks really good. I like where he’s at right now physically, mentally. 

“I think JD is going to be a big part of this team this year.”