Yankees Pre-Game Notes: March 30 vs. Army
The Yankees couldn't have asked for a more picture perfect day, literally and figuratively, to finish out their spring slate; it's expected to be in the 50s this afternoon here in West Point, where the view from home plate includes not only the campus, but the foothills of the mountains surrounding the Hudson River valley as well.
The Yankees' clubhouse was closed to media prior to the game, so the starting lineup wasn't revealed until about 1:30 - but it will be lefty Vidal Nuno, and not previously scheduled Adam Warren, who will start for the Yankees. Nuno won the Dawson Award for best rookie in camp this year after going 1-1 with a 0.61 ERA in seven Grapefruit League appearances, striking out 13 in 14.2 innings pitched.
Behind Nuno, the lineup looks a lot like one that Yankees fans may see a lot of early on, with three lefties at the top and a trio if newcomers in the middle. The starting nine:
Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Brennan Boesch DH
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Francisco Cervelli C
Despite Friday's roster moves, the Yankees do still have every player that was with the team in Washington here in West Point as well. Moreso than the game itself, however, Joe Girardi hopes his team just enjoys and appreciates the day, which included a guided tour of the campus and lunch with the cadets prior to the game.
"Being able to see the history and the different areas of the campus, going to the chapel, looking out over the Hudson River where General Washington had the chains that went across…the history of this place is magnificent, and for us to be able to enjoy this day, is really special," Girardi said.
Meanwhile, as the Yankees are just 48 hours away from meeting the rival Red Sox on Opening Day, Army is just a day away from opening Patriot League play against their top rivals, the U.S. Naval Academy. Today, senior RHP Chris Rowley is listed as the starting pitcher for the Black Knights, but a team source said they believe it will be a token appearance before he is replaced by 6-foot-6 RHP Andrew Flaherty, a sophomore who, according to his official team bio, has a fastball clocked as high as 87 MPH and a "developing slurve."
This game of course won't count in the official standings for the Black Knights either, but head coach Joe Sottolano said it's a perfect matchup with the Yankees.
"The thing that you always remember about the Yankees is the class and the tradition," Sottolano said. "When you walk around West Point, you see that; I don't know if you could see a better fit anywhere in the country. The Yankees are the best in their business, and what they represent reflects the same here at West Point."
Army will have one true heavy hitter in their dugout: Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira who asked (and was granted) permission to sit with the Black Knights for the day. Teixeira, whose father was in the Navy, joked with Jack Curry that he'll try to teach the Army pitchers "how to pitch to these knuckleheads," and Sottolano remarked that "I think we'll have room for him" in the Black Knights' dugout.
When the Yankees played Virginia Tech a few years back, many in the starting lineup went over to sit with the Hokies after they came out of the game; Girardi encouraged that camaraderie again today, telling the media that he knows the way to the Black Knights' dugout, and "if they want to do that, I can show them the way."
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES