03/11/07 7:50 PM ET
Buzz in air as Yanks come calling
Clubs to face each other for lone time this spring on Monday
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
So when the rivals meet up on Monday night at 7:05 ET for the only time this spring, both sides will keep their focus where it should be.
"If you told me that if we beat them tomorrow night, they'd give us a win during the regular season, we'd make sure it counted for more," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We're just trying to get ready for the season, so that when the season starts, we can beat them. I bet you if you talk to Joe [Torre] tomorrow, he's not out there panicking tonight about the Red Sox on March 12. We're just trying to get ready for the season."
And as seems to be the case every year, the rivalry has added yet another new wrinkle. It now has an international appeal, thanks to the arrival of Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Boston rookie's every move is being chronicled just like when Matsui broke in with the Yankees four year ago.
Matsui will be on hand for Monday's game at City of Palms Park.
"I probably shouldn't say that we're the best of friends, but when we see each other on the field, I'll definitely say hello and pass along my regards," said Matsuzaka.
Former Sox center fielder Johnny Damon won't be making the trip to Fort Myers. Neither will Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez.
Jason Giambi, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera will join Matsui for the two-hour bus ride from Tampa.
Carl Pavano, a former Sox farmhand, will pitch for the Yankees. Tim Wakefield, the trusted knuckleballer, will take the ball for Boston.
Because it's a home game, Francona will send out his starting nine, minus catcher Jason Varitek.
"When you see our lineup as opposed to probably what they'll bring, it's not because we're trying to [beat them] or make a statement," said Francona. "We're just trying to get ready for the season."
And once the season begins, the fun between the Red Sox and Yankees can truly start. The rivals meet 18 times this season, the first of which will be April 20 at Fenway Park.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.