Players prep for 'buzz' of Yanks-Sox
Pettitte to face Colon in clubs' only Grapefruit League meeting
TAMPA, Fla. -- It happens every spring. Slather on some sunscreen and grab your shades, as the Grapefruit League gets a taste of baseball's best rivalry.
The Yankees and the Red Sox will meet on Monday at Legends Field in Tampa, more than 1,150 miles south of the Bronx and a world away in terms of the intensity level. Yet it is still Boston and New York head-to-head, and that always deserves attention.
"The thing that makes Boston and the Yankees so special is the atmosphere created by Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium," Shelley Duncan said. "It's another Spring Training game. You really take it like another game, but that's what [players] do during the regular season.
"What makes it different is the aura and the buzz in the air."
The Yankees plan on fielding their "A" lineup for the 1:15 p.m. ET affair, with Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Bobby Abreu all having rested during Sunday's exhibition tilt with the Indians.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox -- just days away from a transcontinental trek to play in Japan -- are also bringing most of their stars for the two-hour-plus bus ride from Red Sox Nation's southern headquarters in Fort Myers, Fla. Manny Ramirez is the most notable player not making the trip, but captain Jason Varitek, slugger David Ortiz and reigning American League Rookie of the Year Dustin Pedroia are expected to be present and accounted for.
Left-hander Andy Pettitte will get the call for his third start of the spring, scheduled to throw 60 pitches after missing his last appearance due to a mild left forearm strain, and the Yankees will get their first look at Bartolo Colon since the burly right-hander found a new uniform.
Not that the two clubs have particularly kept their distance or silence, despite having not met on the field since September.
In just the past few weeks, Yankees general partner Hank Steinbrenner was playfully inducted into Red Sox Nation by Red Sox principal owner John Henry after Steinbrenner's comments denouncing the idea of the defending World Series champs as America's team were published in The New York Times' Play Magazine.
"Go anywhere in America and you won't see Red Sox hats and jackets, you'll see Yankees hats and jackets," Steinbrenner said. "This is a Yankees country. We're going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order."
That quest aside, the experience may be a bit stranger for opposing players -- and particularly manager Terry Francona -- to look into the Yankees' dugout and not see Joe Torre.
There's a new man in charge for the Yankees, and though Joe Girardi had plenty of exposure to the Boston rivalry as a player, this will be his first encounter with the Red Sox as a manager.
"I think it'll register a lot more in the season," Girardi said. "It's a great rivalry and an unbelievable one. The intensity and the length of the games are great for baseball."
For the last part, Girardi had his tongue planted firmly in cheek, but everything else always holds true, no matter the month. Until April 11, the first time these two teams will meet for real, Sunday's preview encounter will have to do.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.