video thumbnail

A look back at Sabathia's best moments from 2012

As with any Red Sox-Yankees matchup, there will be a thick sense of history in the air, one that will be that much thicker with the game's greatest rivalry beginning its 2013 chapter on Opening Day.

But, really, that's all it is -- history.

This is Opening Day 2013, and the two venerable teams are headed into an uncertain April, the Yankees riddled with injuries to star players, the Red Sox hoping to put a 93-loss season behind them. They'll both have to focus on the present, not the past, to get off to a good start in 2013.

When the two clubs square off to start the season on Monday, the area that will appear the most normal, the most steady, will be the mound, where two of the game's best left-handers are slated to toe the rubber in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Yankee Stadium. CC Sabathia will make his fifth Opening Day start for the Yankees and his 10th overall. He's will meet Jon Lester, who will be making his third consecutive Opening Day start as one of the team's constants, one who, like the club, had a rough 2012 season.

It will be impossible not to notice what's different about the two teams for this opener, though.

The Yankees will be without shortstop Derek Jeter, missing his second Opening Day in 18 years with the club, as well as Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson.

"We've gone through it here and there with some injuries," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Our guys have found a way, and I really believe they'll do that."

Indeed, the Yankees lost their closer to right knee surgery last season, but Mariano Rivera is back for his last of 19 seasons -- no doubt a candidate for the longest standing ovation during introductions.

The Yankees also will have Robinson Cano, the multitalented superstar who struggled in October, showed ample evidence that he's back in a groove by earning Most Valuable Player honors in the World Baseball Classic and now heads into the final year of his contract.

"Hopefully, I'll continue doing the same things I've been doing every year -- just go out there, play hard and help the team win games," Cano said upon his return from the Classic.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, won't be at 100 percent themselves, with David Ortiz battling a heel injury and new shortstop Stephen Drew working his way back from a March 6 concussion. But of more significance is the array of newcomers who will be in uniform come Opening Day.

It starts at the top with manager John Farrell returning to the club he had so much success with as a pitching coach. Hoping to change a culture that spun out of control the previous year or two, the Red Sox acquired Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes to alter the lineup and brought in starter Ryan Dempster and reliever Joel Hanrahan to close out games.

"Our goal and our expectations has not changed one bit inside the clubhouse, and that's to compete and contend for a division title," Farrell said.

All that said, history, in the case of Red Sox-Yankees, goes back a long way. There's that 4-4 tie, called because of darkness, to start the 1910 season, and who can forget that one? Overall, there have been a total of 30 previous occasions when Boston and New York have squared off to open what is now a 162-game marathon of a Major League season, with the Yankees holding an 18-11-1 advantage.

There was a meeting in 2010 at Fenway Park, won by the Red Sox after the Yankees had claimed the '09 World Series, their 27th. There was one in '05 in the Bronx, won by the Yankees after the Red Sox won their first World Series title in 86 years.

And now this, a 2013 meeting in which both teams hope to get off to a strong start, facing some adversity heading into the long season.

Red Sox: Bradley makes impression
• The story of 2013 camp for the Red Sox was the emergence of outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who landed himself on the big-league roster and a start in left field for Opening Day with a tremendous performance in Grapefruit League action.

Bradley hit .419 (26-for-62) with seven extra-base hits, including a three-run homer off Phillies ace Cliff Lee in the final week of Grapefruit League play. With Ortiz starting the season on the DL, a spot for Bradley opened up, with Gomes shifting into Papi's role as the designated hitter and Bradley in line to play left field.

"I came into Spring Training -- not even a thought to make the team," said Bradley, who finished out 2012 at Double-A Portland.

• Lester enters 2013 out to prove that his 9-14 mark and 4.82 ERA in 2012 were an aberration.

"There's a little bit of a chip there," Lester said. "I want to prove that last year was a fluke and it's not going to happen again."

Yankees: Late moves plug holes
• With Granderson and Teixeira both out for the long term, the Yankees used the last week of Spring Training to bring on a couple of veterans who could help fill the void, trading for outfielder Vernon Wells and signing first baseman Lyle Overbay after the Red Sox had released him.

Wells, who had no place in the Angels' outfield, is slated to step in as the Opening Day left fielder, with Brett Gardner in center and Ichiro Suzuki in right.

Former Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis is a candidate to start at first base on Monday against the left-handed Lester, but against righties, Overbay is expected to step in at first with Teixeira out until at least June with a right wrist injury. The Yankees know they have a seasoned veteran at the position in Overbay, a 12-year Major Leaguer.

"Obviously, he knows how to play the position, and he has played it at a pretty high level over the years," Girardi said.

• Sabathia is coming off October surgery to remove a bone spur from his left elbow, but he has been healthy throughout Spring Training and has designs on another big season of making every start and going well beyond 200 innings.

"I'm playing for right now and trying to win a championship, and I want to go out there as many times as I can and try to help the team," Sabathia said. "I'll do what I can to stay healthy."

Worth noting
• The Yankees will be playing 19 of their first 32 games at home. Their first road game will be another home opener -- at Detroit against the Tigers, who swept the Yankees in last year's American League Championship Series.

• After their season-opening series in the Bronx, the Red Sox will head to Toronto to take on the new-look Blue Jays. They'll then head home to open their Fenway Park schedule against Baltimore on April 8.

• The two teams enter the series -- which will include an off-day Tuesday before games on Wednesday and Thursday -- with the Yankees holding a 1,132-933-14 all-time advantage, including 95-89 over the last 10 years. The rivals won't meet again until another three-game set at Yankee Stadium begins on May 31, and they won't square off at Fenway Park until July 19, right after the All-Star break.

MLB.com Comments