On-Base Perception

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Five dates to watch for the Yankees in 2013

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona answers questions during

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona answers questions during a news conference at the baseball winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. (Dec. 5, 2012) (Credit: AP)

We're still a few weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting, but it's never too early to figure out the critical points in the baseball season:

START ME UP

It's not as eventful as it once was, but "The Rivalry" is still exciting and there's plenty of new faces to introduce this year (as well as one old face: Kevin Youkilis). The Yankees start the season with three games against the Red Sox, kicking things off in the Bronx at 1:05 p.m. on April 1. They don't see Boston again May 31, also at Yankee Stadium. The first trip to Fenway comes during a three-game set that starts July 19.

THE RETURN OF TITO AND SWISH

The Yankees face off against old foe Terry Francona and ex-Bomber Nick Swisher when they play the Indians at Progressive Field at 4:05 p.m. on April 8. The Bleacher Creatures won't get to welcome Swisher back until the Indians show up at Yankee Stadium to start a three-game series on June 3.

ACROSS THE BORDER

The Yankees get their first look at the improved Blue Jays in a 7:07 p.m. Friday night game at the Rogers Centre on April 19. New to the Jays in 2013: Jose Reyes, Maicer Izturis, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Melky Cabrera and just about anybody else the Marlins could get rid of.

EASY PICKIN'S

The Yankees coast into the All-Star Break with seven games against the Twins, four against the Royals and three against the Orioles. If they're struggling, that's a good schedule to get the team back on track. The Twins are projected to be awful, the Royals have only slightly improved and it's doubtful the Orioles can pull off a repeat of their magical 2012 season.

NOT WITH A BANG, BUT WITH A WHIMPER

Forget any final weekend dramatics. The Yankees play the sure-to-be hapless Astros for three games to end the season. Their final game begins at 2:10 p.m. on Sept. 29.

Tags: Nick Swisher , Terry Francona , Yankees , Red Sox , Blue Jays , Astros

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