Bring it on!

arod_350_022509.jpgBy Jon Lane
Finally it’s upon us, baseball! The Yankees open their Grapefruit season today at 1:15 p.m. against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., in which their full roster will be intact before many players leave to prepare for the World Baseball Classic.  

This game is neither televised nor over the radio waves – I wish it was because Alex Rodriguez is playing and it would have been interesting to gauge fan reaction – but we’ll do our best to provide periodic updates. A-Rod is braced for a hostile reception, but to him that’s nothing new.

News flash: Joe Girardi announced the order of his rotation this morning, reports The Journal News‘ Peter Abraham.

CC Sabathia
Chien-Ming Wang
A.J. Burnett
Andy Pettitte
Joba Chamberlain

Many of you were hoping Wang would be No. 2 between Sabathia and Burnett. You got your wish and it’s a good decision by Girardi to separate two power pitchers with Wang’s nasty sinkerball, which helped win 19 games in consecutive seasons. Not a bad No. 2, eh?

Furthermore, the plan is for Chamberlain to make roughly 30 starts. Chamberlain will be carefully monitored, but the last thing you want to do is handle him with kid gloves. Let him go out and show what he’s all about.

Today’s lineup:
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Nick Swisher RF
Shelley Duncan DH
Juan Miranda 1B
Todd Linden LF
Kevin Cash C

The starters: Brett Tomko vs. Brett Cecil

The Yankees agreed to a Minor League contract with Tomko on Friday and invited him to Spring Training.  The veteran right-hander turns 36 on April 7 and split last season with the Royals and Padres. In 12 seasons, Tomko is 95-99 and a 4.68 ERA in 368 games (260 starts) with the Reds, Mariners, Padres, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers and Royals. His chances at the making the Yankees are a longshot – and our Steven Goldman is not a big fan – but he’s another veteran arm that could be stashed away just in case.

Tomko, incidentally, will wear Bobby Abreu’s old No. 53.

The rotation: Tomko, Kei Igawa, Christian Garcia, Mike Dunn, Dave Robertson, Dan Giese and Jose Veras.

About the Blue Jays
Remain a middle-of-the-road team off a fourth-place finish in the AL East … pitching staff is anchored by Roy Halladay, who has thrown 220-plus innings in three consecutive seasons while averaging 17.3 wins … injuries limited five-time All-Star Scott Rolen to 115 games (.262-11-50), but he batted .307 with three home runs and 11 RBIs over his final 25 games … Vernon Wells suffered a left hamstring injury in drills on February 23, and might miss the remainder of spring training … manager Cito Gaston returned for his second stint as Jays pilot when he took over for the fired John Gibbons on June 20, 2008 and signed a two-year extension that September.


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