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Yankees Pregame Notes: April 1 vs. Boston

04/01/2013 11:33 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro
NEW YORK – The second century of Yankees baseball officially begins today, as the New York Yankees battle the Boston Red Sox on what looks to be a beautiful April day in the Bronx.

“From the time you put the uniform on in Spring Training, you look forward to this day,” manager Joe Girardi said in his first pre-game press conference of the season. “You’re excited to get into your season and get things going; for me there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation, and I’m looking forward to a good day.”

Lefty CC Sabathia makes his fifth straight Opening Day start for the Bombers, opposing fellow southpaw Jon Lester, and Girardi said he hopes today is business as usual for his big left-hander.

“I believe in CC and always have, with what he’s done here. With the big wins he’s given us and the innings he’s been able to log for us, I have a ton of belief in CC,” Girardi said.

Here is the lineup behind Sabathia:

Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Vernon Wells LF
Ben Francisco DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix 3B
Francisco Cervelli C

Today’s lineup contains six players who were not in pinstripes on Opening Day 2012, and manager Joe Girardi said that it was a little tougher to make today’s lineup simply because of that.

“It’s a little bit more, with some of the things we can do, but more about where you’re going to put guys in the lineup based on who is playing,” Girardi said. “I wanted to divide the lefties up a little bit against Lester, and we have some new faces in Wells and Francisco, so we had to figure our where everyone fit.”

Girardi had sais in the spring that he might not hesitate to have three lefties in a row at the top, but with that thought of splitting the southpaws against Lester, Eduardo Nunez was the top candidate to hit second.

“We like the way Nunie is swinging the bat; I didn’t particularly want to put three lefties in a row, and we like Gardy’s ability to get on base, so I stuck him in the leadoff spot without (Derek Jeter) and I thought we should put a right-hander in there right after,” Girardi said. "My plan is that Ichiro will probably be there against righties, maybe on Wednesday."

Although Chris Stewart worked almost exclusively with Sabathia in 2012, Francisco Cervelli will be the catcher today, and Girardi said there’s nothing to read into that other than the name.

“I think the first month it’ll be somewhat of a process of figuring out how we want to handle it,” Girardi said of his catching tandem. “You can play spring games, but in season it’s different; the things that you have to handle are different, and your emotions are different. It’s something I’ve thought about for a few days, and right now, it’s probably going to be a fairly even split, and we’ll go from there.”

As far as Wells, Francisco, and Youkilis go, Girardi also said he had a few words of advice for the newcomers.

“When you sign with the Yankees, you have to be who you are; don’t try to do more just because you’re in a Yankee uniform, because that’s gonna get you in trouble,” Girardi said. “Just be who you are; that’s one of the reasons we went and got you, because we thought you could help us. I actually took about three weeks to figure that out, so any time we have a new guy, that’s what I share.”

No matter who is in the lineup or where, though, Girardi reminded the media that the mission is always the same: put one in the left column.

“I know there’s some different faces in that clubhouse, but we expect to win,” Girardi said. “Our belief is to go out there and win every day. It’s an opportunity at the beginning for the new guys to get some playing time, and show what they can do.”

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