BOSTON (AP) -Maybe it was because he was otherwise absorbed signing two boxes of World Series baseballs, or maybe it was the picture of his visit to the White House that was resting by his left elbow as he sat at his locker in the Fenway Park clubhouse.
But when Boston Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon said he wasn't much concerned about the impending arrival of the New York Yankees, he seemed to mean it.
``I'm not going to look at anything different, and I don't think anybody in else in this clubhouse is going to, either,'' he said, counting out the days on a schedule taped to a nearby pillar. ``Just another game.''
The once-fierce rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox has cooled a bit lately - at least in Boston, where the fans have assuaged their long-running inferiority complex by celebrating two of the past four World Series titles.
Add in the fact that the Red Sox only recently played a much-ballyhooed season-opening series in Tokyo, then came home to raise their championship banner and received their World Series rings. After that, a visit by the team dubbed the ``Evil Empire'' just doesn't seem so apocalyptic anymore.
``I don't really know a whole lot about the Yankees,'' Papelbon went on. ``I haven't really gone over the scouting report.''
If he had, he would have seen that the Yankees are beset by injuries, losing shortstop Derek Jeter for the series against Kansas City because of a strained left quadriceps muscle. Jorge Posada wasn't catching because of a strained shoulder muscle.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona joked that Jeter should get all the rest he needs.
``Always. Always,'' Francona said. ``You can never be too careful with those quads.''
But the Red Sox have problems of their own. They put World Series MVP Mike Lowell on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, and backup infielder Alex Cora was being examined for a twinge in his throwing elbow.
The injuries forced Kevin Youkilis to move across the diamond to play third in the series finale against Detroit. Sean Casey stepped in at first base.
The Red Sox and Yankees play so much - 108 games over the past five years - that they have the routine down pat. At his pregame media briefing on Thursday, Francona held off the questions because he didn't see a familiar face - a New York Daily News reporter who has spent so much time in Boston that he could join the local BBWAA chapter.
``We can't start without Roger Rubin,'' Francona said. ``It's the day before New York, he's got to be here.''
He was also ready with his standard response when asked about how the Yankees would respond to their new manager Joe Girardi.
``I don't need to manage both teams. Got my hands full here,'' Francona said. ``I'd really rather try to beat Detroit and get them out of here.''
Girardi was looking forward to his first trip to Fenway Park as Yankees manager.
``I think it will be just as hostile and enjoyable and intense.'' he said. ``Just the intensity of the game, the intensity of the fans. And the length of the games become quite incredible too. Anytime you go into a ballpark and it's full, whether they are for you or against you, I think it's a good environment because it is loud and people are on the edge of their seats.''
The rivalry might be old hat for some, but Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash is looking forward to his second game in the rivalry.
``The fans get into it,'' he said. ``And when the fans get into it, the players get into it.''
---
AP freelance writer Alan Eskew in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.
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