Red Sox, Yankees notice it’s back to normal near opener

NEW YORK (AP) — Gerrit Cole looked normal.

“It already feels different,” the New York Yankees ace said on Thursday. “Went into a holiday yesterday, everyone’s in, no masks. Breakfast is out, the sofas are back. Humans are here. ,

Cole’s first game at the Pinstrips was delayed due to the pandemic until August 3, 2020, when he pitched at the ballpark without fans. His first game last season was before a crowd limited to 10,850 during a season in which the Yankees were not allowed to sell an entire house until mid-June.

A large crowd was expected for Friday’s rain-delayed season opener against the Boston Red Sox, the rivals’ first opening-day meeting since 2005. The starting pitchers are a rematch of last year’s AL wild-card game, which was won 5–2. Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“It feels like it’s back more than usual,” said Boston’s Nathan Iovaldi, who joins Pedro Martinez’s ad John Lester as the only Red Sox pitcher to have scored three straight opening days in the 21st century. “Some of our young people are asking questions about the media – like, ‘The media’s back in the clubhouse? Was it always like this?’ And, it’s like, yeah, that’s how it used to be.”

And the stands will look like they did in the days before the pandemic.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Boston star Xander Bogarts. “Wherever you go, the ballparks are going to be full.”

Each team in the AL East other than Baltimore won 90 games last year, the first time the league split into three divisions each in 1994. Boston and New York were both 92-70.

Players, like fans, are gearing up for the Yankees-Red Sox opener.

“I see it as two stag locked in the woods,” said Cole. “Someone is going to break a horn every once in a while, and no one is definitely going to back down.”

New York has a new third baseman and leadoff hitter in Josh Donaldson and new shortstop in Isiah Kinner-Falefa, acquired from Minnesota for catcher Gary Sanchez and shortstop Gio Ursella.

Boston has a new second baseman at Trevor Story, who is signed as a free agent and transferred to the infield in a move that allows the Bogarts to stay at shortstop. The Bogarts are eligible for free agency after this season and said Boston made an offer, but negotiations for a long-term contract did not proceed.

“We had time to do something. It didn’t work out,” Bogarts said in the Yankees’ refurbished news conference room, her diamond necklace and earrings shining in new light.

Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge is also eligible for free agency after the World Series. The judge said he would stop negotiating a longer-term deal when the season resumes.

“What he brings to this outfit from my time is something I haven’t seen before,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs last July. “And when it comes to the business side of it, there’s no secret, you see that Freddie Freeman is no longer on the Braves. There’s no loyalty in this game. And when you separate him and the business side and You take your heart out of it, so that’s the hard part.”

Alex Cora is back for his second season managing the Red Sox after returning from a one-year suspension for his role in the Houston sign-theft scandal. For him, the opening days are moments to treasure.

“I was not in the game for what I did two years ago, and I would never take the sport lightly,” he said.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was delighted to face a room full of New York media for the first time since 2019.

“I loved walking into the room and revisiting it. That’s the way it should be,” he said. “It makes you appreciate the platform and the sport you get to participate in.”

Clubhouses are open to the media for the first time since the start of March 2020, allowing players to conduct face-to-face interviews.

“Maybe it improves their social skills a little bit,” Boone said.

Signal

All teams have a new electronic pitch-calling system allowing catchers to sign the pitcher via the wristband unit. MLB authorized the new system after sign thefts were investigated by the Astros en route to the 2017 World Series title.

Thinking about the fast pace, Cole said, “I think there are some immediate positives that I want to take right away.” “Overall to be able to fall back on what we traditionally do really early in the game I think it’s comfortable, but no doubt in terms of shaking and places and things like that There’s going to be some adjustments that we’re going to be ironing out maybe over the course of the season.”

Ranking

Cora is not the favorite to win the World Series over the Red Sox. “We treat it like college baseball. Right now we’re number 12 in the country. We just need to get better. If people feel that way about us, they have a reason.”

Upholstery

The Yankees interview room was renovated with sizable magazine covers featuring former stars.

rotation

Red Sox: Given the rain, LHP Rich Hill will start for Boston in Detroit on Tuesday and RHP Garrett Whitlock will be available in the bullpen on Friday.

Yankees: Cole will be followed in rotation by RHP Luis Severino, LHP Jordan Montgomery, RHP Jameson Talon and LHP Nestor Cortés.

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