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04/05/10 10:28 AM ET

Eighth may not be Joba's alone

Robertson, Marte among competitors striving to set up Mo

BOSTON -- There is a good chance that if the Yankees hit the eighth inning on Sunday holding a lead against the Red Sox, manager Joe Girardi will put the ball into Joba Chamberlain's right hand.

But that is no lock. Girardi said that the setup role remains up for grabs, a continuation of the challenge that the organization sent to Chamberlain when he could not wrestle the fifth starter's job in a spring competition with Phil Hughes.

"Right now, our eighth inning is somewhat similar to what it was last year at this time," Girardi said. "No one has really claimed that spot. That's something that will work its way out -- the sooner, the better for us. You'd like to establish that role."

The Yankees also have right-handers David Robertson and Chan Ho Park, plus left-hander Damaso Marte, among those who could potentially handle the eighth-inning duties, and Girardi said that he does not want to use his relievers three days in a row.

Girardi added that Alfredo Aceves is available in relief after a spring bout with back stiffness. Marte battled a cranky left shoulder late in camp and would be a game-time decision based upon how he felt after playing catch on Sunday.

Rivalry, not Fenway, new to Granderson

BOSTON -- When CC Sabathia made his Yankees debut last April, the lefty said he wasn't struck by the impact of the situation until he spotted Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada walking by his locker in their road grays.

As Curtis Granderson prepared to take his first regular-season batting-practice session as a Yankee, that moment hadn't yet arrived. In fact, the new center fielder has been struck by how welcoming the fans have seemed to be in Boston -- just happy that Opening Night is finally here.

"We were riding around in a bus that said 'Yankees' on it, and I didn't see certain displays that I expected to see," Granderson said. "There are a couple of things that I know are coming. They just haven't come yet. I'm just waiting to see when they come, where and how."

Granderson is the highest-profile Yankee experiencing the rivalry with the Red Sox for the first time, but it's not as though he hasn't patrolled the ancient ballpark's lush grass before, having come in previously wearing the uniform of the Tigers.

Smashing debuts
Home runs in first at-bat with new team since 2005
Player Old New Opp. Date
C. Granderson DET NYY BOS 4/4/10
R. Belliard WAS LAD ARI 8/31/09
B. Conrad OAK ATL WAS 7/3/09
F. Lopez STL ARI COL 4/6/09
D. Johnson OAK TB BOS 9/9/08
C. Ransom HOU NYY KC 8/17/08
R. Jorgensen FLA CIN CHC 8/15/07
R. Branyan SD PHI WAS 8/14/07
M. Morris SF PIT CIN 8/4/07
L. Terrero BAL CWS SEA 5/1/07
D. Erstad LAA CWS CLE 4/2/07
Q. McCracken SEA CIN STL 4/16/06
B. Arroyo BOS CIN CHC 4/5/06
G. Gross TOR MIL PIT 4/4/06
M. Piazza NYM SD SF 4/3/06
F. Thomas CWS OAK NYY 4/3/06
R. Petagine BOS SEA ANA 4/3/06
M. Olivo SEA SD PIT 8/3/05
J. Payton BOS OAK TEX 7/15/05
P. Wilson COL WAS MIL 7/14/05
K. Cash TOR TB MIL 6/15/05
S. Fasano LAA BAL CWS 5/15/05
R. Sexson ARI SEA MIN 4/4/05
J. Cruz TB ARI CHC 4/4/05

"I've played here before -- the game has been sold out before," Granderson said. "The intensity has been there, and both teams want to win. All of that stuff is the same. The one difference coming over as a Yankee is you have that respect from the fans that, 'Hey, we know your team is going to be good.'"

Getting immersed in the rivalry with the Red Sox is a rite of passage for every Yankee, and manager Joe Girardi likened the path Granderson is about to follow to the one that he pursued when he followed Joe Torre into the skipper's chair in 2008.

"I could sit in Joe's office as a coach and have an idea of what it was like to manage the New York Yankees," Girardi said. "But you really don't know exactly what it's like until you go through it. Those guys have probably seen, many times, the Yankees and the Red Sox play. But until you actually go through it, it's probably a little bit different than what you imagined."

Yankees trio to set record as teammates

BOSTON -- The longest-tenured Yankees are still making history together.

When Mariano Rivera makes his first appearance of the 2010 season, he will join Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada as the first trio of teammates in MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL history to play together in each of 16 straight seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Jeter and Posada started in Sunday's season-opening 9-7 loss to the Red Sox, but Rivera waited uncalled in the visiting bullpen. That left the group tied with the 15-season trio of Jim Gantner, Paul Molitor and Robin Yount with the Brewers from 1978-92.

Jeter, Posada and Rivera have held the pinstriped honors for some time. The second-longest trios in Yankees franchise history played 13 years together -- Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing from 1930-42; and Whitey Ford, Elston Howard and Mickey Mantle from 1955-67.

Worth noting

Marcus Thames made the Yankees' Opening Night roster primarily because of his proven ability to hit left-handed pitching, but manager Joe Girardi said that he had not yet decided if Thames would be in Tuesday's lineup against lefty Jon Lester. ... Francisco Cervelli could be used as a catcher despite the Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring. He was scheduled to run on Sunday, but not do so at full speed. Girardi's tentative plan is to play Jorge Posada straight through at catcher to the home opener on April 13, with the Yankees enjoying several off-days. ... Hall of Famer Yogi Berra called Girardi on Sunday to wish the Yankees well. "I'll be watching," Berra told him.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.