|Welcome to the Hub, bub: Dice-K gets ready for Yankees|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 19 April 2007 11:41|
Next up for Daisuke Matsuzaka: His first appearance against the Yankees and all the hubbub that comes with a Boston-New York series.
``I'd just as soon not face him,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said Thursday as he wrapped up a series against the Cleveland Indians. ``I watched him on TV. He looks like he's got it together.''
Torre will bring the Yankees back to Fenway Park this weekend for the first time since a five-game sweep of the Red Sox last August effectively ended the AL East race. Most of the players on the two teams already know what to expect from the much-hyped rivalry, but a few newcomers will get their initiation.
``Everybody has been asking me 'Are you ready for the zoo tomorrow?''' said Red Sox reliever Joel Pineiro, who spent the first seven years of his career with Seattle. ``I can't wait to get out there. I can't wait to go out there and beat up on the Yankees. ... The fans in Boston, they want us to rip their heads off.''
Also among the newcomers is Matsuzaka, the Japanese ace whom the Red Sox acquired in the offseason for a total of $103.11 million. He is scheduled to make his fourth start of the season on Sunday night; because of a series of rainouts last week, his will then go against New York at Yankee Stadium on Friday.
``I'm curious to see how we're going to do against him,'' Torre said. ``That always takes on a life of its own up there. We know how crazy it's going to be. ... Both clubs get revved up for it.''
Torre has more things to be curious about. Because Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano are on the disabled list, New York will start Andy Pettitte on Friday and follow with rookies Jeff Karstens and Chase Wright.
``The younger kids, it's going to be a test,'' Torre said. ``I don't think they'll back away. ... I know one thing: Winning or losing, they're going to come away with something that's going to help them next time around.''
The Red Sox probables for the series are Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Matsuzaka. ``I'm not going to apologize for having those three pitching,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said.
Pettitte has plenty of experience in the rivalry, pitching for the Yankees nine years before spending the last three seasons in Houston. In his last Red Sox-Yankees game, Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, there was a little incident involving Grady Little and Pedro Martinez; while Pettitte was away, Boston won the World Series for the first time in 86 years.
``I'm just looking forward to it again,'' he said. ``I guess I'll find out if it's any different from the time I was here before. I can't believe that it is, from what we went through with them whenever I was here.''
Pettitte said Wright has approached him to talk about the rivalry. The veteran's suggestion: ``control yourself,'' even when facing David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez with a packed Fenway crowd at full throat.
``It's going to be a different environment, and if you get wrapped up in who's at the plate, or whatever, you can get distracted a little bit,'' Pettitte said. ``The best advice I can give them is be oblivious to what's going on.''
Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon will help the rookies just by being there. The former Red Sox star is no longer beloved in Boston after defecting to the Yankees as a free agent after the 2005 season; Doug Mientkiewicz, who caught and kept the last out in the '04 Series, has also landed with the Yankees.
``I don't think (Wright) will have any problem. I think those fans are worried about myself and Douggie, so he'll be OK,'' Damon said. ``If they have that little bit of confidence, it could take you a long way in Fenway. Especially if you can get Ortiz and Manny out the first time around, your confidence level definitely goes up.''
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum and Sports Writer Jay Cohen from New York and free-lancer Ian Harrison from Toronto contributed to this report.