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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
First Pitch: Yankee Baseball is back

By Andrew Marchand

TAMPA, Fla. -- The question is will it be the usual Yankee baseball?

As pitchers and catchers report today, the air is filled with more intrigue and questions than high expectations. While fans are down on what the front office did or didn't do this winter, the level of uncertainty that the Yankees enter camp with brings an interesting and different vibe to the 2013 club.

Since 1995, the Yankees have made the playoffs every year, except 2008. Gary Sanchez, the Yankees' top prospect, was born in Dec. of 1992, just two years prior to the beginning of this exceptional run. This year, the Yankees have a chance -- of all things for this billion dollar monolith -- to surprise, as Wallace Matthews wrote in his preview column.

Wally made his prediction for the season with the Yankees finishing second in the AL East behind the Baltimore Orioles. I haven't decided where I'm going to pick the Yankees yet, but right now I'd probably go second, as well, behind the revamped Toronto Blue Jays. An argument could be made for first to maybe even last for the Yankees in '13.

That is why this year is different and, for me, more interesting. Last season, I picked the Yankees to win the division because 1-through-25, they were better than any other team in the division. This season, I'm not so sure with regression in right field, probable inferior production at catcher and possibly at short and third base. That doesn't even explicitly mention age.

When we counted down to spring training, we found 20 issues that are facing this team for this season and going into the offseason. Hal's $189 million shadow hangs over this team as an impending mandate that adds a fascinating angle to this season.

If the Yankees make the playoffs, Hal will surely go through with his pledge -- at least, he will attempt to. If they don't, will Hal bow to public pressure, and dust off his dad's old playbook?

From the comebacks -- Jeter, Mo, Pineda, and A-Rod -- to the uncertain offense, there are so many questions to be answered through spring training and beyond, which, at least from a reporter's point of view, makes this regular season much more interesting that any in recent memory.

And, today, finally, it will begin.

ON DECK: Joe Girardi's first, "State of the Binder" address will take place at 11 a.m. Prior to that, from 10-to-11 a.m., the clubhouse will be open so look for opening day blogs, columns and videos all day on ESPN NY. Baseball is back!

IN THE HOLE: The biggest story that could emerge from the clubhouse is Mariano Rivera saying he is retiring at the end of the year. I believe it will be. Francisco Cervelli could talk anti-aging, as well.
QUESTION: What is your most interesting storyline for 2013?