Good Evening
Good Evening

The Yankee underdogs, Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Luis Ayala and Luis Castillo

Greetings from a chilly Yankee Stadium! At least it's sunny and pleasant today. Have you seen tomorrow's forecast? Yikes. The Yankees' opener hasn't been rained out since 2008, which - now that I think about it - is also the last time they missed the playoffs.


(Kidding, sort of)

It was an easygoing day here. The real action occurred in Tampa, where Curtis Granderson played in a minor-league game and hoped to convince himself and his superiors that he was ready for today's game.

The action here in the Bronx came mostly in the form of words and decisions. The team worked out for about an hour and 15 minutes, but before that, a few discussed the idea that the Yankees could benefit from being underdogs in the AL East.

"We’re not the favorite," Opening Day pitcher CC Sabathia said. "So that kind of feels good to have everybody not picking us. Let’s go out and kind of sneak up on some people.”

Added Joe Girardi: "Maybe guys don’t feel the weight of the expectations as much. I don’t know. Sometimes, when you’re the underdog, you kind of go under the radar a little bit."

Uh huh. I think the key words there were "I don't know."

I don't blame the Yankees for trying to sell this stuff. I'm just advising you not to buy it. The Yankees had a bad winter. It happens. They certainly have a chance to win it all - I think they'll win the AL wild card - but I certainly don't see them benefiting from any perceived underdog status. And they sure as heck won't be going under any radar.

I'm going to have some fun with his notion in the column I write for tomorrow's Newsday. I'd appreciate it if you didn't alert the competition.

--With right-hander Justin Verlander pitching for Detroit tomorrow, the Yankees will hit Brett Gardner first and Derek Jeter second. It's an obvious move. Jeter will lead off against lefty pitchers, with Gardner shifting to the bottom of the lineup.

Is it a slight of Jeter? I guess you could say so - he'd be leading off against Verlander if the Yankees considered him a better option than Gardner - but it's a pretty slight slight, if you will. To go nuclear over this is to forget that Jeter hit second, primarily, in some of his best seasons (1998, 1999 and 2006) and in some of the Yankees' best seasons (2000 and 2001, in addition to '98 and '99).

The real delicate call for the Yankees will come when they feel compelled to move Jeter down to the bottom third of the order. We're not there yet, though.

--The Yankees have added veteran reliever Luis Ayala to their roster, as a replacement for the injured Pedro Feliciano. Man oh man, remind me to be a pitcher in my next life. Ayala hasn't been so much as league average since 2007. He didn't even pitch in the majors at all last season.

--Speaking of 2008 Mets, the Phillies released Luis Castillo. That was quick. I'd think that Castillo would have to spend some time in the minor leagues, or independent ball, if he wants to keep playing.

--The great Paul Lukas of Uni Watch has this year's uniform changes. I love the Mariners' Dave Niehaus patch.

--Randy Velarde is the latest ex-player to testify against Barry Bonds. I don't quite understand how this parade of players helps the prosecution. How does it prove that Bonds knew what he was taking? Couldn't the defense say that because Bonds and Greg Anderson were so close, Anderson took greater efforts to protect Bonds and therefore didn't tell him what he was taking?

To be clear, though, I think other witnesses (like Kimberly Bell and Steve Hoskins) have been effective in testifying that Bonds knew what he was doing.

--Self-promotion alert: I'll be on "Good Day New York," on Fox 5, tomorrow morning with two live hits from Yankee Stadium. They'll be at about 7:15 and 9:20. We'll see if I need rain gear.

--Have a great night.

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