Steve Sax and the Los Angeles Dodgers were on a bus in New York City last summer. Sax, who has spent his entire career with the Dodgers, got up and told his teammates there was no way he could play in New York.

On Wednesday night, Sax decided to give it a try, signing a three-year, $4 million free-agent contract with the New York Yankees, leaving a team he had helped lead to a World Series title last October."A lot of times people say things," Sax said Wednesday. "On a team bus, after you've lost to the Mets 10 of 11 times, you can get in a bad mood."

Sax said Yankees owner George Steinbrenner helped to change his attitude.

"I'm going to New York with a totally open mind," Sax said. "George Steinbrenner was very pleasant. He impressed me that he wants to win, that's the main thing. He got personally involved in these negotiations. I really like that. He made me feel special, wanted."

Sax said he was disappointed to be leaving Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers coaches, his teammates and the fans. He repeatedly said, however, he had been angered by Los Angeles general manager Fred Claire during negotiations.

"The Dodgers had every chance to sign me," Sax said. "A long time ago, we told them it was $3.9 miliion, and they never really got in that area."