A lot of familiar faces in unfamiliar uniforms today.
Travis Hafner is back in Cleveland for the first time since coming to New York. Nick Swisher is playing his first home game for the Indians after four years with the Yankees. Terry Francona is managing Cleveland after eight years in Boston.
“I think (the fan response) will be good,” Hafner said. “The fans have always treated me great. At the same time, I play for the Yankees now, so we’ll see. I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be good to be back here playing.”
Swisher and Hafner are each hitting cleanup today.
“I’m so excited to see these guys,” Swisher said. “These guys were a major part of my life for the past four years. I’ve got a lot of friends over there. Still doesn’t mean I don’t want to give it to them, but either way, those guys over there, the city of New York, the New York Yankees organization, I could not have been more honored to be a part of that. The last four years have been amazing, and just trying to take everything that I’ve learned from over there and bring it in here.”
Frankly, the writing was on the wall late last season that neither Swisher nor Hafner would be back with their old teams (and it was more unusual to see Francona in a broadcast booth than in an Indians uniform), so this day — one way or another — was simply a matter of time.
“Not every roster can have a full-time DH,” Hafner said. “There was some interest on both sides but I wasn’t exactly sure how it would play out, if there would be space or whatever. The opportunity with the Yankees came up, I talked to a lot of people and it seemed like a great fit for me with the ballpark and the franchise and having a chance to play with Hall of Famers and really good leaders. It’s something I was looking forward to.”
• Eduardo Nunez was able to throw when he got to the ballpark today, and at that point, the Yankees put him in the lineup. He still had to try hitting, but early results in the cage were promising. “Little bit (of pain),” Nunez said. “Not 100 percent yet, but I think I can make it today.”
• Similar story for Hiroki Kuroda, who’s said he’s still not quite 100 percent but should be good enough to pitch today. “I think you’ll know fairly quickly if the finger (issue) arises,” Joe Girardi said. “I feel pretty good about it, but I’ll watch his command and that will probably be the telling tale.”
• If Kuroda has trouble early, Adam Warren — not David Phelps — will be the long man. Phelps threw too many pitches on Saturday. Warren is fully rested after pitching five days ago.
• Why Chris Stewart over Francisco Cervelli, especially after Cervelli’s good day yesterday? “Just keeping them both involved,” Girardi said. “I think that’s important. As I said, the first month I’ll play it out. Stewart’s at-bats have been pretty good too. Stewie’s hit the ball pretty hard too. This first time through, I’m kind of giving them the same guys twice so there’s some consistency and you can build off that.”
• Girardi said he still hadn’t gotten a report on what Derek Jeter did today.
• The weather report is a bit spotty here. Could rain right around first pitch, perhaps a little earlier, or it might not rain at all. It’s pretty cloudy here right now. Both teams got through batting practice with no issues.
• This will be the Yankees third Opening Day, having already gone through the ceremonies in New York and Detroit. “We get excited for our home opener,” Girardi said. “Not necessarily somebody else’s.”
Associated Press photos