New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia throw in the...

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia throw in the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers. (March 19, 2010) Credit: AP

TAMPA, Fla. - There was unanimity in the clubhouse.

"Everybody's ready to go," Andy Pettitte said.

How can he tell?

"Everybody's saying 'let's get out of here,' " he said, laughing. "The last three or four days, everybody's just miserable and just ready to get out of here. It's like those last few days, it won't get here."

"It'' is the opener.

And Sunday night it does.

The Yankees will open their defense of their 2009 world championship as CC Sabathia takes on Red Sox ace Josh Beckett at Fenway Park. It is the 30th time the Yankees have opened the season against their rival and first since 2005, a 9-2 victory at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are 18-10-1 in those games.

For Derek Jeter, beginning against the Red Sox doesn't make the opener any more special.

"No, Opening Day's special," he said. "Like I always say, it's special when you play in Boston because of the atmosphere, but we've played those guys so many times throughout the years, I don't think it's any different than if we were opening up with another team."

Jeter, though, was somewhat in the minority. Several of his teammates said there is a little something extra to opening in Boston.

"Very excited, especially starting in Boston. The fans are going to be in it from the first pitch of the season," Mark Teixeira said. "I guess you could probably say that everywhere, but it's going to be a great way to the start of defending the title."

Pettitte, who will start Wednesday night in the third game of the series, agreed.

"It's special. Always going there is special," he said. "It's fun. The fans make it fun. The atmosphere is always great. That just doesn't get old."

Sabathia, 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA in five career regular-season starts at Fenway, is looking forward to it.

"It's going to be exciting," he said. "It's always exciting when you're going to Boston and it being Opening Day, it's definitely going to be a [challenge] to keep my emotions under check and just try to stay calm and throw strikes."

Sabathia, the epitome of calmness, said that even though his teammates might not pick up on his nerves, they're there. They're there when every season begins.

"It's Opening Day, and the opening of the season, you always get a little butterflies," Sabathia said. "Last year was a lot more so because I was new to the Yankees, but it's still . . . you still get those Opening Day jitters."

The Yankees, who finished spring training 13-15-1 - they beat their top minor-leaguers, 9-6, on Saturday in the Future Stars game, which doesn't count in the standings - feel good as they leave camp.

"I think just like last year, we're going to take a few weeks to try and settle into the season and find our identity," Teixeira said. "We might run a little more with [Curtis] Granderson and [Brett] Gardner in the lineup. Most of the team is back and I don't think we're going to skip a beat."

Pettitte noted the addition of Javier Vazquez, who has surpassed 200 innings in nine of the last 10 seasons and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting last year. He's the Yankees' fourth starter.

"There's not a whole lot you can't like about where we're at right now," Pettitte said.

Repeating offers its own challenges - no team has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series from 1998-2000 - but Jeter doesn't think the bull's-eye on the Yankees' back is any bigger this year than in past seasons.

"No, it's the same thing," he said. "Whenever we play teams, they want to beat us. I don't think it's any more this year. I think it's the exact same. And our mind-set doesn't change because we're always supposed to win anyway."

The Yankees' quest to do so again officially begins tonight.

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