According to our little Spring Training Countdown in the sidebar, we’re just 24 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting for duty in Florida. That’s the most exciting non-news days of the year — all the players have to do is inform the team that they’re physically in the Tampa area — but it gets us that much closer to baseball. Soon after will be full squad workouts and Spring Training games, and before you know it, the regular season.
The fun starts before the regular season though. The Yankees will play two exhibition games against the Marlins in their new stadium (April 1st and 2nd), the first games played by two big league clubs in the building, and that’s pretty cool. The Cubs did the honors when the New Yankee Stadium opened in 2009, if you remember. After that, the Yankees will wrap up their exhibition schedule with two games against the Mets, take a day off, then start the regular season. Let’s preview the awesomeness of April…
April 6th-8th @ Rays
Opening Day! The Yankees start the 2012 season at their home away from home in Tampa, and will face a Rays lineup rebuilt with noted Yankees-killer Carlos Pena and the insufferable Luke Scott. Old pal Jose Molina will be behind the plate as well. Hopefully these three games go better than the last three games of 2011, when the Yankees got swept at Tropicana Field in what would have been heartbreaking fashion had the games meant anything to them.
April 9th-11th @ Orioles
The most boring series of the month is the second one, a three gamer in Baltimore against the nondescript Orioles. We’ll probably get to see new imports Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chen on the mound, but otherwise it’s the same old Orioles. At least we can still despise Buck Showalter. I’m sure there will be a ton of Yankees fans in the house even though it’s a mid-week series.
April 13th-15th vs. Angels
After a day off, the Yankees come home to Yankee Stadium for the first time this season and welcome Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, and the rest of the Angels to the Bronx. We’re all familiar with Wilson from his time with the Rangers, but Pujols has never played in the New Stadium and has only played six career games against the Yankees, none since 2005. He’ll play six games in the Boogie Down in 2012 alone.
April 16th-19th vs. Twins
A midweek four-game series against Minnesota isn’t anything to write home about, though the Yankees do completely own the Twinkies, especially at home. Did you know they’re 63-20 against the Twins during the Ron Gardenhire era (including playoffs)? That’s a .759 winning percentage, or a 123-win pace over a full season. Furthermore, the Yankees are 33-7 against them in the Bronx, and four of those losses were at the hands of Johan Santana when he was in his heyday. Pretty crazy.
April 20th-22nd @ Red Sox
Once they’re done having their way with the Twinkies, it’s off to Boston for the first Red Sox series of the year. I do loathe these series only because of the over-hyped drama and the fact that it’s a weekend series, which means FOX and ESPN are going to get involved. That and the fact that the Yankees also seem to lose to the Red Sox in the first half of the season before pounding on them in the second half. Nothing sends fans to the ledge quite like an early-season series loss to the Sawx.
April 23rd-25th @ Rangers
The Yankees will fly to Texas following the Sunday night game, and with any luck, we’ll get a look at Yu Darvish during these three games. Hopefully it’s not a long look, maybe an inning or two before the bullpen has to get involved, but the odds are in favor of him starting one of those games. Neftali Feliz too, I hope to see him in his new starting role. Imagine if we get a CC Sabathia-Darvish and/or a Michael Pineda-Neftali matchup? Oh boy.
April 27th-29th vs. Tigers
A day off follows the three games in Texas, then the Yankees will come back home for quick little six-game homestand. First they’ll look to exact some revenge for last year’s ALDS loss to the Tigers, but Detroit is going to bring new addition Prince Fielder to town. He and Miguel Cabrera will invoke memories of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez circa 2004-2007, so just be thankful they’re in another division.
The Yankees wrap up their April schedule with a home series against the Orioles that carries over into May, then they’ll fade into the monotony and grind of the regular season. They’re going to see the three biggest contracts handed out this winter during the first month of 2012, assuming they catch a Darvish start. It’s a tough schedule for the Yankees, but as a baseball fan, it will be fun to see all those players with their new teams.