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Marcus Thames, Andy Pettitte, player salaries and Neil Diamond

Started out as an absolutely beautiful day here in Boston, but now it's breezy . It'll be more seasonal weather tonight, yet still closer to spring than winter. We might even get some rain at about 10:00 - in the bottom of the third.

The big news here, as it were, is that Marcus Thames will start for the Yankees in leftfield, against Boston lefty Jon Lester. Brett Gardner will sit. Joe Girardi indicated that Thames, as long as he produces, will get the bulk of starts against lefty starters, although it won't necessarily be in Gardner's place 100 percent of the time. Gardner could move to centerfield when Curtis Granderson needs a rest, or Nick Johnson could take a day off at DH.

Here are Thames' career splits. Here are Thames' 2009 splits.

--Girardi said he wanted to set up established bullpen roles as quickly as possible, as opposed to going with matchups for the entire season. I thought that was interesting. It speaks to the fact that, even though Girardi is conscious of statistics and matchups, he recognizes the human element, and that pitchers generally like knowing their roles.

--Andy Pettitte took some questions from reporters, in advance of his start tomorrow night here. When asked if he always gets excited for his first start of the season, Pettitte smiled and said, "I guess I need to say, 'Yeah.'"

--This is interesting: In light of USA Today's significant reporting error yesterday regarding player salaries, the Players Associaiton today released a statement announcing that - according to the union's calculations -the average player salary is $3,340,133, more than what was stated even in USA Today's corrected story.

Clearly, public perception is important to the union, which has never before made such an announcement.

--Red Sox manager Terry Francona spoke of how much he wanted to get into the grind of the regular season. He said that sure, he likes the pomp and circumstance of Opening Night, but it's nice not having to prepare for the game around discussions of military flyovers and the like.

Then Francona referred to "What's his name, singing that song," and it was apparent he was referring to Neil Diamond, who sang his own song "Sweet Caroline" in the eighth inning.

"I don't know if the Red Sox want to hear this," Francona continued, "but I actually thought that it was Dick Vitale."

Well, who doesn't confuse those two?

--Good piece by WEEI's Alex Speier about the Red Sox's defense from Sunday night. I found it on Twitter.

New York Sports