Game 2: Yankees at Rays
April 7, 2012, 7:10 p.m. ET, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
TV / Radio: YES, MLB Network, WCBS 880 AM
This could be the Yankees’ lineup against left-handed pitching this year, as Joe Girardi gives a healthy nod to Nick Swisher’s on-base percentage against southpaws. Curtis Granderson drops to sixth in the lineup, which will also include Eduardo Nunez at shortstop as Derek Jeter takes a half-day at DH.
“Swish has had so much success if you look over the last two years against left-handed pitching, getting on base,” Girardi said. “Grandy had a great year against left-handers as well but Swish has probably been on base against lefties more than any player that we have. I thought about flip-flopping them. Grandy has been extremely productive against left-handers so if we get some guys on, maybe Grandy pops one.”
Girardi is concerned about playing Jeter and Alex Rodriguez too much on the artificial turf; Rodriguez might get a full day off for Sunday’s afternoon game. It doesn’t hurt that the Yankees want to see more at-bats out of Nunez, either.
“We just talked about (against) lefties, I’m probably going to DH Alex or Jeet a substantial amount of time,” Girardi said. “This turf can be rough on these guys, especially early on in the season. It’s a way to get Nuney in before a month like last year. I just think it worked out well and we’ve got a day game tomorrow.”
This will mark Hiroki Kuroda’s Yankees debut, and Girardi said he is looking forward to seeing how it goes.
“Obviously this is a good-hitting fastball club, and he’s got three or four other weapons he can go to besides his fastball,” Girardi said. “Being ahead in the count is important and using his split and trying to expand with it is important as well.”
Derek Jeter DH
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Andruw Jones LF
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez SS
Pitching: Hiroki Kuroda RHP (13-16, 3.07 ERA last year)
Desmond Jennings CF
Carlos Pena RF
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce LF
Ben Zobrist RF
Luke Scott DH
Jeff Keppinger 2B
Jose Lobaton C
Reid Brignac SS
Pitching: David Price LHP (12-13, 3.49 ERA last year)
- FOUR “I”s IN TEAM: With his appearance in Friday’s season opener, DH/OF Raul Ibanez became just the fourth player to appear in a game in Yankees franchise history whose last name began with the letter “I”… he joins RHP Hideki Irabu (1997-99), OF Pete Incaviglia (1997) and LHP Kei Igawa (2007-08).
- THE MORE THINGS CHANGE: The Yankees have started the same infielders (Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez) and outfielders (Gardner, Granderson, Swisher) on Opening Day for the last three consecutive seasons (2010-12)… according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marks the first time a Major League team has done that since the Baltimore Orioles from 1979-81 (INFs: Murray, Dauer, Belanger, DeCinces; OFs: YES Network broadcaster Ken Singleton, Bumbry, G. Roenicke).
- LEGENDS JOINED: With their Opening Day appearances on Friday, SS Derek Jeter and RHP Mariano Rivera tied Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle for the most seasons played (18) in Yankees franchise history.