Some who have been exposed to it brush it off, as though it could be just another three-game stop on the schedule. But for a Yankee, comparing Boston to Minnesota, Oakland or Tampa Bay just doesn't fly.

Then there are those willing to admit that there's a little something special about walking into Fenway Park and soaking up the energy -- and absorbing the negativity -- of a hostile crowd.

But for those receiving their initial indoctrinations to the experience of being a Yankee in Boston during this weekend's kickoff meeting of baseball's greatest rivalry, the bottom line is this:

Expect the unexpected, and be ready for anything.

"It's unpredictable," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "That's the only predictable part about it."

While the Red Sox prepare to throw their top three pitchers at the Yankees this weekend -- firing Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka -- the Bombers will try to piece together a rotation behind veteran Andy Pettitte -- who starts Friday -- by tossing rookies Jeff Karstens and Chase Wright in the final two games of the series.

"It's going to be a test," Torre said. "This game is all about being tested. Hopefully they come through real well, but I know one thing -- winning or losing, they're going to come away with something that's going to help them later on."

Among the players wearing New York grays in Fenway Park for the first time will be Wright, relievers Chris Britton, Sean Henn and Luis Vizcaino, and position players Josh Phelps and Doug Mientkiewicz.

"I'm sure it's going to be really great," said Wright, who will be on the bench for a pair of games before starting Sunday's finale. "I'm glad that I'm going to get a chance to go up there and watch it for two games so I can experience a little bit of it."

As a member of the 2004 Red Sox, Mientkiewicz has an idea what it's like to come into hostile territory with this rivalry, but he said there's no crash course you can conduct to prepare.

"There's nothing really you need to do," Mientkiewicz said. "Yes, it's a big deal for the fans, but I don't think players do anything more or less. There's a lot of coverage and stuff like that, but I try not to put a lot of stock into it. In October, it's a different story. In April, guys are just trying to play it status quo."

"I'm sure I'll get screamed at," Mientkiewicz continued. "But that's part of the fun of the rivalry, what these games are always about. It's like Derek [Jeter] says, 'You either love us or you hate us.'"

Along with Johnny Damon and Mientkiewicz, left-handed reliever Mike Myers is an old hand in the select club that has played for both sides of the rivalry.

He said some of the best action takes place in the seats, a sideshow that players always wind up paying some attention to, regardless of their efforts to block it all out.

"It doesn't intensify until the first pitch," Myers said. "Then you know what's going on and you understand what's going on. The main thing is not trying to do more than you can do. You go in there and you've got to take it and execute your pitches, and hitters can't try to hit a home run every swing. It's more scrutinized at the end of the day, but it never gets old."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Curt Schilling (2-1, 2.84 ERA)
On Saturday in Boston, Schilling dominated the Angels, throwing eight shutout innings and allowing four hits on just 103 pitches, 68 of them strikes. It was the first time Schilling had thrown as many as eight shutout innings since late September in the World Series championship season of 2004. Schilling has allowed just one run over his past 15 innings.

NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Although the Yankees didn't win, Pettitte put in a solid performance in his previous start against Oakland on Sunday, when he threw seven innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits. The left-hander has allowed only one earned run in his first two starts. Pettitte opens the series with a 13-5 career record and a 3.05 ERA against the Red Sox.

Player to watch
Jason Giambi has six home runs and 11 RBIs in 35 career at-bats against Schilling, compiling a 1.153 OPS.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• YES

On radio
• WCBS-AM 880 AM, WZAA-FM 92.3 FM (Espa?ol)

Up next
• Saturday: Yankees (RHP Jeff Karstens, 2-1, 3.80 ERA in 2006) at Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 3-0, 1.50), 3:55 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (LHP Chase Wright, 1-0, 5.40) at Red Sox (RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1-2, 2.70), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Yankees (LHP Kei Igawa, 1-0, 6.06) at Devil Rays (LHP Casey Fossum, 1-1, 6.11), 7:10 p.m. ET