3/28/2013 5:12 P.M. ET
Youkilis excited for first Opening Day in pinstripes
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- Kevin Youkilis probably turned some of those boos he heard early this spring into "Youks," entering play on Thursday leading the Yankees in home runs (five) and RBIs (13).
Actually, Youkilis can't be sure about that, since it's a challenge to tell the difference.
"Like I've said, I can't tell if they're screaming, 'Youk,' half the time anyway," Youkilis said.
But the former Red Sox star has heard fewer jeers coming from the home crowds in camp, and that has to be a good sign as he prepares for his first Opening Day in pinstripes.
"It's going to be fun going to Yankee Stadium," Youkilis said. "The fans, before, there was a lot more hatred, and hopefully now there'll be a lot more excitement.
"It'll be good. I've got my family in town, they're excited. This year's a new beginning, full of new opportunities, and hopefully great things will happen in the end."
Youkilis will see some familiar faces in the visiting dugout on April 1, as the Yankees open their 162-game regular-season schedule by facing the Red Sox. Youkilis said that opening up against Boston makes little difference to him.
"It doesn't really matter either way," Youkilis said. "I think just going to play at Yankee Stadium for the first time [as a Yankee] is going to be a cool thing, especially playing on Opening Day with probably some old timers coming back. That's always cool to see."
Cano not feeling pressure to carry Yankees
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees' Opening Day lineup will be built around Robinson Cano's powerful bat, but the second baseman said that he does not feel any additional pressure to carry the team.
"It's going to be hard," Cano said. "All you want is to start the lineup with your starters. You don't want anybody to get hurt, but this is part of life. Hopefully, they'll get well soon and be back soon, and we can stay in the race so whenever they get back, we can be on track and they can help us make it all the way to the playoffs."
Cano said that the Yankees will miss the contributions of players like Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter in the early going, but Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner could help cushion the blows.
"We have guys like Youk that have been in the game a long time," Cano said. "We have Hafner, guys you hope can come in and have a great season for us, help us win games until we get the rest of the guys back."
Cano said that he is thankful that he was able to avoid the injury bug, for the most part. Cano was scratched from Wednesday's game against the Orioles with a stomach bug, but Cano said that he was well enough to play on Thursday as the Yanks wrapped up the Florida portion of their spring schedule.
"I feel good. Mentally, I feel good and my body feels good," Cano said. "That's all that matters. When the season starts, that's what you want -- to feel good mentally and physically. Hopefully, I feel like that the whole season."
Mariano optimistic for Yanks despite injuries
TAMPA, Fla. -- As Mariano Rivera looks ahead to his final Opening Day, the Yankees' closer said that he does not know what emotions will be flowing through him when the team is announced before the April 1 game against the Red Sox.
Rivera said that he is focused on finishing the spring strong and being ready for the season, but he is also making sure to spread some optimism around the clubhouse in what has been an injury-marred Grapefruit League campaign for the team.
"It's part of the game. No one wants to get hurt," Rivera said. "No one likes to get hurt, but it happens. What we need to do is play the game we know how to play; do the little things, pitch, and we'll win games like that. Someone will step up. Someone will do what needs to be done to win games."
With Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Phil Hughes among the bigger names expected to begin the year on the disabled list, Rivera suggested that the Yankees may have answers to their problems already in camp. The solution could come from a relatively unheralded name.
"Again, for example, we had Scott Brosius," Rivera said. "He came from Oakland [in 1998], we had no clue about him, and he did a tremendous job -- and so many others. It can happen like that.
"You don't need to have just big names to do the job, to get the job done. You have to have the heart and will to do the job. That's what separates. I believe that everyone who is here is capable of doing that."
Nuno wins outstanding Spring Training rookie award
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees left-hander Vidal Nuno was announced on Thursday as the recipient of the 2013 James P. Dawson Award, given annually to the outstanding Yankees rookie in Spring Training.
Nuno, 25, was 1-1 with one save and an 0.61 ERA in seven appearances (two starts) for the Yankees this spring. He permitted just one run in 14 2/3 innings, allowing 10 hits while walking four and striking out 13.
The Yankees are still considering Nuno to break camp with the club on the Major League roster as a long reliever and second left-hander behind Boone Logan.
Nuno pitched last season at Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, going 10-6 while leading all Yankees Minor Leaguers with a 2.54 ERA over 138 1/3 innings.
Infielder/outfielder Ronnier Mustelier has been diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right knee and will not make the Opening Day roster, manager Joe Girardi said. Mustelier told the team that his right knee "cracked" while running in the outfield on Wednesday in Sarasota, Fla. He will be sent to the Yankees' Minor League complex and should join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in April.