Yankees vs. Red Sox: Preview of Opening Night

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sabathia beckett headshots.pngThe Yankees and Red Sox will open the 2010 baseball season this evening with a game under the lights at Fenway Park.  It will be televised on ESPN2, while women’s college basketball teams from UConn and Baylor duke it out on ESPN.  That’s a blog post for a different day.  Here’s a look at tonight’s projected starters and lineups:

YANKEES

On the hill: CC Sabathia

The big lefty finished 19-8 last year with a 3.37 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 34 starts, rewarding the Yankees for investing a monstrous contract in him during the 2009 offseason.  He’s the ace of baseball’s most successful franchise and will look to get off to a positive start in 2010.  Sabathia was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA against the Red Sox last season and held their powerful lineup to a .172 collective batting average.

Lineup:

SS Derek Jeter
DH Nick Johnson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
C Jorge Posada
CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
LF Brett Gardner

RED SOX

On the hill: Josh Beckett

Beckett and the Red Sox are inching closer and closer to inking a four-year contract extension thought to be worth around $68 million, or about $17 million annually.  The 29-year-old was 17-6 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 199 strikeouts in 2009 and will try to put his value on display this evening against the Yankees.  He struggled against the Bombers last season, allowing 34 hits and 19 earned runs in five starts (32 innings).

Lineup:

LF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
C Victor Martinez
1B Kevin Youkilis
DH David Ortiz
3B Adrian Beltre
RF J.D. Drew
CF Mike Cameron
SS Marco Scutaro

There’s no shame in getting far too worked up for Opening Day.  It’s silly, sure, but it’s only natural.  The winter is long and rough in a lot of baseball cities and the arrival of the regular season tends to warm the soul, if not the actual ballparks in which over 2,500 games will be played during the next seven months.  Tonight, it all begins with a singular but intriguing matchup between two longtime rivals.  Let’s friggin’ do this.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.