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Yankees to kick off spring slate against Florida State

02/25/2014 11:54 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro
The answer is Vidal Nuno…and the question is who will throw the first pitch for the Yankees in 2014?

The Yankees' spring slate kicks off today at 1:05 p.m., with Nuno getting the start in an exhibition game against Florida State University at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The lefty, who impressed in Spring Training last year and ended up pitching 20 innings for the major-league club, will have the first chance to get a leg up in the competition for the fifth spot in this year's rotation.

Of course, the lineup behind Nuno isn't (and was never expected to be) anywhere close to what will be out there on April 1, but it does feature players from five groups. Two, Brett Gardner and Kelly Johnson, are expected to be everyday starters, while two others are likely to make the team as reserves and two more are rookies who made their MLB debuts with the Yanks last season and are fighting to push that middle duo. The other three are a pair of minor-league signees looking to win a job and 28-year-old Cuban defector Adonis Garcia, a non-roster invitee who has hit .261 in 116 games in the system over his two seasons in the States.

The full lineup:

Brett Gardner CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Kelly Johnson 3B
Russ Canzler 1B
Zoilo Almonte LF
Brendan Ryan SS
Adonis Garcia RF
Yangervis Solarte 2B
John Ryan Murphy DH

According to Chad Jennings of the Journal News, Nuno will be followed by minor-league signees Brian Gordon and a trio of 2014 Trenton Thunder in Shane Greene, Bryan Mitchell, and Francisco Rondon; the second-string, meanwhile, will include top prospects Mason Williams and Gary Sanchez, powerful catcher Peter O'Brien (who will DH), and winter acquisition Dean Anna at shortstop.

On the other side is a Florida State University team that features outfielder/pitcher Jameis Winston, who led the Seminoles' football team to a BCS National Championship just seven weeks ago. The baseball 'Noles are 6-0 on their young season, with five members of their starting lineup hitting over .300 heading into Tuesday; their most famous player, Winston, has just two plate appearances, but is perfect there so far (with a single, a walk, and a run) and has yet to allow an earned run in four innings over three mound appearances.

Winston's "other" coach, head football coach Jimbo Fisher, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and he told YES Network's Jack Curry earlier in the day that he is a proponent of "Famous Jameis" playing both sports; as Curry Tweeted, Fisher went on to say "baseball is a sport that involves a lot of failure, which is good learning tool for Winston in football, too."

Whether he plays a lot or not at all, though, is of little overall consequence on this day, as the true story is that Yankees baseball is back!

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