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Monday, April 1, 2013
Youkilis, five others make Yankees debuts

By Kieran Darcy

On Opening Day 2013, there were lots of new faces in the Bronx. Six players saw their first action with the Yankees in the team's 8-2 loss to the Red Sox.

Kevin Youkilis heard the biggest cheers. The former Boston slugger batted cleanup and played first base, and delivered a double to left field to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. The 34-year-old heard the familiar "Yooouuuuk" refrain from the fans, even though it was his first game in pinstripes.

Kevin Youkilis
Kevin Youkilis split time between first and third base in the opener.
"It was cool, it was great. Yankee Stadium is a place where people dream to come play at," said Youkilis, who was 1-for-4 on the day. "It stunk in the end to come up short, but it's a great place to play, and great fans. We just didn't play the best ball possible today to win a game."

Youkilis downplayed the fact that his first game was against his former team. "I play 162 games and I have a rivalry against every single team in Major League Baseball," he said. "I try to win every game, and it doesn't matter if it's the Red Sox, the Astros or interleague play. I go out and play as hard as I can to win every game."

Two other new additions were in the starting lineup. Vernon Wells batted fifth and played left field, and Ben Francisco batted sixth as the designated hitter. Wells went 0-3 with a walk, while Francisco was 0-for-1 with a walk before being removed for a pinch-hitter.

"It was everything I imagined -- being a Yankee, and Opening Day," said Wells. "This place is special. It’s always packed, the fans are always into it. At the end, it was ugly out, on the field and off. I don't blame them for heading home a little early."

Fellow newcomers Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay each saw action off the bench. Hafner was 1-for-2, with a single to right-center in the eighth. Overbay was 0-for-2.

Shawn Kelley, a 28-year-old righty reliever, who spent the past four seasons with the Mariners, rounded out the debuts, pitching a scoreless eighth.

All in all, Kelley retired all three batters he faced, but the five new hitters went a combined 2-for-12. The Yankees need more production from those guys -- at least until some of the team's injured stars return. And the manager knows it.

"We have some new faces in the lineup. They're gonna get an opportunity to step up, and they're gonna have to do that for us. That's the bottonm line," said Joe Girardi. "We brought some guys in later into camp, they're gonna get a lot of opportunities here, and we need them to perform."

Girardi isn't panicking, however.

"You don't make too much of it," the manager said. "Everyone wants to get off to a great start, everyone wants to go 3-for-4 and drive in a couple runs, but it just doesn't happen that way. So, come back to work Wednesday night."