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What to watch for in the Grapefruit League Opener

Saddle up, Yankees fans. Baseball is BACK and live on Friday at 1:05PM on YES. In the first game spring the Yankees will take on the Detroit Tigers for the first time since the brawl last summer. Luis Cessa will toe the rubber for the Yanks against left-hander Ryan Carpenter, who recently signed a minor league deal with the Tigers.

Without further adieu, here’s what you should watch for this afternoon.

Who’s out?

Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, and Gary Sanchez will not get in on the action tomorrow. Judge is still rehabbing from arthroscopic shoulder surgery but has taken several monster batting practice sessions the past few days. Yesterday, he worked on his timing and tracked pitches without swinging. Expect to see him sometime next week. As for Sanchez, Boone debunked any rumors that he’s sitting out this one because of the fight last summer, and rather that he has a plan to distribute his workload behind the dish.

I also wouldn’t expect to see CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray, or Luis Severino because all three tossed simulated innings yesterday.


Giancarlo Stanton is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow, so I wouldn’t park my car anywhere beyond the outfield wall. After closing his stance halfway through June last year, Stanton went on an absolute tear and felt like he possessed even more power.

“I’d seen on video that when I would strike in a closed position I hit the ball hard,” Stanton told John Harper of the New York Daily News. “Homers, hits, balls to the opposite field, really everywhere; so I thought I’d start in that position.”

Stanton has no qualms about his new stance, and rightfully so. His final 100 games last year? .278/.382/.671 with 43 HR, 17 2Bs, and 90 RBI.

Andujar vs Drury

Newly acquired utility man Brandon Drury was, according to Cashman, “a guy we’ve been trying to get for years.” After crazy trade hypotheticals about landing Manny Machado and a deal for Todd Frazier not shaking out, Cashman finally got his man. Nobody is sure what he meant by that comment, as he’s been a league average player. Drury hit .267/.317/.447 with 13 HR, and 63 RBI in his 2017 campaign with the Diamondbacks. But hey, with Cashman, you never know.

Drury is expected to play third, which threw a monkey wrench into Miguel Andujar’s plans to be the starting third basemen come Opening Day. Perhaps Andujar is more projectable with the bat, but Drury might have him beat on defense, something many scouts have cited as an achilles heel for Andujar. In 114 games at second base last year for the DBacks, Drury showed gold glove potential. He committed just 7 fielding errors and posted a .977 fielding percentage. Be excited to see this competition unfold during the spring, but with weapons at virtually every spot in this Yankee lineup, whoever shows out on defense is landing the gig.

Aaron Boone

Not that he’ll face nearly as much scrutiny during Spring Training as he may when the season commences, but it’s been interesting to see Boone handle the new role. He talked about the energy level for the Grapefruit league opener.

“There will be a little excitement with the crowd and the pinstripes and actually playing a game, and playing another team,” Boone told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com “I think you get some juices flowing for that.”

It seems abundantly evident that he’s a much more laid back and relatable figure than Girardi was. Boone even used the word “dude” during a press conference this past week.