The Yankees will take part in their third home opener of the year this afternoon, but this one will be a little more special. The Yankees have a number of ex-Indians on their team, and vice versa. Most notably, Travis Hafner, who spent 10 years in Cleveland, and CC Sabathia, 7 and a half years, will return to their old stomping grounds wearing pinstripes. In an Indians' uniform, Nick Swisher will man first base after playing with the Yankees for four seasons.
It's good to see Nunez back in the lineup, but I'm a little surprised to see Stewart in there. Francisco Cervelli has been red hot with the bat, and his defense has been far better than Stewart's. Perhaps the Yankees are still testing them out, but Cervelli has undoubtedly outplayed Stewart at this point, and with an already limited team, it's hard to justify playing an inferior lineup.
On the mound, Hiroki Kuroda takes on the right-handed Ubaldo Jimenez. After reaching ace status in Colorado, the move to a more pitcher friendly park has actually been counter productive for Jimenez. Since his trade to Cleveland in 2011, he's shown a notable drop off in velocity, and last year he pitched to a 5.40 ERA, and a 5.06 FIP. He looked good in his first outing of the 2013 season, throwing 6.0 innings of 3 hit ball against the Blue Jays, but only averaged 92 mph on a fastball that once sat at 96 mph.
Also keep an eye on Kuroda today, who is returning from an injury shortened start last week. His middle finger was bruised by a line drive in the second inning, and remarked that the finger was still numb in his last bullpen session.
The game starts at 4:05 PM on YES and the MLB Network. Go Yankees!
(Photo courtesy of Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)