First Pitch: Play ball!

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
8:28
AM ET
Finally, the day we have all been waiting for: an actual game of baseball, for the first time all spring.

Today the Yankees host the University of South Florida at The Boss, first pitch at 1:05 p.m. Joe Girardi said he would start his regulars, with the exception of Robby Cano, who just returned from his great-grandmother's funeral in the Dominican Republic and missed all week of camp. Most of them will just get one at-bat, however, since the Yankees play their real preseason opener Saturday against the Phillies in Clearwater.

RHP Adam Warren will start today, followed by RHP Brett Marshall, RHP Danny Burawa, LHP Juan Cedeno, RHP Graham Stoneburner, RHP Ryan Pope and RHP Kevin Whelan, none of whom are on the 40-man roster.

When the real thing gets under way on Saturday, Ivan Nova will make the start followed by a procession of others yet to be determined. The Phillies -- who the Yankees will play three days in a row, Saturday, Sunday and Monday -- will throw Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Joe Blanton. The Yankees will use a DH on Saturday and Monday, both games in Clearwater.

Yes, they are only exhibitions, and no, none of the pitchers will be out there for very long, but hey, it's baseball which also means it's springtime, at least here in Florida. And Opening Day is a mere 34 days away. I'm ready. How about you?

ON-DECK CIRCLE: I'll be in the clubhouse when it opens at 9:30 a.m. -- my conversation with Brett Gardner had to be pushed back yesterday and hopefully will take place today -- and at the game, of course, and will blog throughout the day, so poke your head in every now and then.

IN THE HOLE: I'm expecting a full report on the Yankees' team bonding experience, in which they all went to a comedy club in nearby Ybor City and were going to be asked to participate in some improvised comedy skits. Hopefully, I'll come back with a consensus pick for Funniest Yankee of 2012.

QUESTION: How many wins can we reasonably expect out of Hiroki Kuroda this year? Joe Girardi loves what he has seen so far in live BPs, but what happens when the hitters start to catch up? Let us know.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
CC Sabathia
WINS ERA SO IP
2 5.19 27 26
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Solarte .373
HRC. Beltran 4
RBIC. Beltran 9
RA. Soriano 9
OPSY. Solarte 1.017
ERAM. Pineda 1.00
SOM. Tanaka 28

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