New York Yankees: Everything you need to know about Opening Day

The long-awaited return of semi-normal New York Yankees baseball is just days away.  Opening Day at Yankee Stadium will be this Thursday, April 1st. The last spring training game is today at 1:05 pm against the Detroit Tigers with Domingo German on the mound. Within 24 hours after the game today, the Yankee’s Delta charter flight will lift off from Tampa International airport for the trip north to Yankee Stadium. Here is everything you need to know about Opening Day.

Fans in the stands?

Approximately 10,000 lucky Yankee fans will be able to attend the Opening Day celebration at Yankee Stadium in person. Strict health protocols will be in place. Tickets are being sold in pods of different sizes, with each pod being six feet from the other.

Each fan will be required to have their temperature checked upon entry to the stadium. All fans two years and older must wear a face mask regardless of vaccinations. Social distancing will be encouraged even at food concessions. Interaction between players and fans probably won’t happen.

Opening Day weather:

Four days out, the weather this Thursday is not looking the best. It will be cloudy, with showers projected for the morning. It will be cooler compared to Florida temperatures; fans will need a light jacket as game time temps will be near 50. It could be worse; the Yankees have had snow on opening day in the past.

Starting rotation:

We now know the starting rotation for the first week of play. On the mound for Opening Day will be New York Yankee ace Gerrit Cole facing the Toronto Blue Jay’s ace Hyun Jin Ryu. Game 2 of the series will be started by Corey Kluber. Domingo German thought he was fighting Deivi Garcia for the 5th spot on the rotation; he has pitched so well he will start game 3 on Sunday.

The Baltimore Orioles series at Yankee Stadium will start on Monday with Jordan Montgomery on the mound. Cole and Jameson Taillon will pitch the Tuesday and Wednesday games. The first away game will be against the Tampa Bay Rays and will likely be started by Corey Kluber. But as manager Aaron Boone said about the last-minute details:

“There could be some things that alternate in the final moments and hours, but I think we’ll have a pretty good idea,” Boone said on Sunday. “As I sit here right now, I feel like I have a pretty good idea.”

The New York Yankee bullpen will have Aroldis Chapman as the closer, Chad Green that can be used in almost any situation, new sidearmer Darren O’Day, Luis Cessa, Nick Nelson, Lucas Luetge, and for long relief Jonathan Loaisiga who was the Yankee’s second-best pitcher in the spring, and Michael King.

Starting positions and lineup:

Gary Sanchez will be the Opening Day catcher, catching Gerrit Cole. Sanchez had an abysmal season last year; his batting average was just .147. He has improved somewhat in the spring, hitting .209 with three home runs, but he has 19 strikeouts to his 9 hits.

Jay Bruce will man first base. Bruce got the job when it was learned that Luke Voit would need knee surgery. Bruce hit .198/.252/.469 (90 OPS+) with six homers and 14 RBIs in 32 games for the Phillies last season. This spring, he hit 2 homers and two doubles in 14 games with a batting average of .212. Last year’s home run leader, Voit, is expected to miss at least the first month of play.

Second base will be manned by DJ LeMahieu, 2020’s batting title champ. Considering that LeMahieu has had a lukewarm spring hitting just .224 compared to last season’s .364, he also hasn’t shown much power, hitting just one home run in the spring.

At shortstop will be Gleyber Torres, who has had an outstanding spring. He has played good defense. He has a .279 batting average and leads the team in home runs with 5. Torres is a changed player and could have a great season. He hit 38 homers in 2019.

Gio Urshela will man third base. Urshela has gotten off to a languid start in the spring, hitting only .162 with only one homer on the spring in 13 games. He will surely improve as he has had hot and cold stretches before, and 13 games is a small sample.

Opening Day in the Bronx will feature a healthy Aaron Judge in right field. Judge hasn’t quite found his timing yet. He is hitting .256 with only one home run. No one is worried that he will be a high-impact player throughout the season as long as he is healthy.

Aaron Hicks will man centerfield. Hicks, like many of the New York Yankee hitters, also is off to a slow start. He is hitting .189 but leads the team in doubles and walks. Hicks is one of the Yankee’s most patient hitters. He has a very respectable .753 OPS.

It’s a dream come true for Clint Frazier; he will be the Yankee’s Opening Day starter in left field. Like Judge, Frazier seems to be seeking his timing as well. He is hitting .227 with 2 homers this spring, but he looks good at the plate. Playing every day should resolve that.

Giancarlo Stanton will be the DH. Has gotten off to a great start in the spring. He is healthy and for the most part, has taken off where he left off in the postseason. He is more patient at the plate and is hitting .303 with one homer and has taken 5 walks. His OPS is .865.

Sitting on the bench will be the Yankee player with the highest batting average (.310), Brett Gardner. He will be accompanied by Kyle Higashioka, Mike Tauchman, and Tyler Wade. Aaron Boone will have 13 pitchers and 13 position players filling out the 26 man roster to start the season.

Television and media coverage

ESPN and the YES Network will cover opening Day at Yankee Stadium. The New York Yankee game against the Toronto Blue Jays will be Thursday at 1:05 pm. The YES Network will have extended coverage of all the festivities starting at 11:30 am. Count on to cover every aspect of the game and Opening Day festivities.