Yankees

Ahead Of Opener, CC Picks Yankees To Win World Series

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CC Sabathia (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

CC Sabathia (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – The Yankees and CC Sabathia will get an early chance on Thursday to prove to the rest of baseball that even though they lost out on free agent Cliff Lee and have a suspect rotation, the 2011 version of the Bombers is up to the challenge of recapturing the AL East.

“We can sneak up on some people,” Sabathia said. “As crazy as it sounds with the talent we have in here, nobody seems to believe in us but us so we’ll see.”

Channeling his inner Rex Ryan, Sabathia picked the Yankees to win it all.

“I’m definitely picking us. That’s to win the whole thing. I wouldn’t show up if I didn’t believe that,” said Sabathia. “I played on plenty of teams where the season was over before it even started, and one of the reasons I wanted to come here was to have the chance to win every year and I definitely believe we have a chance to win this year.”

Nick Swisher said the Yankees’ position as underdogs is “the greatest thing ever.”

Why?

“So when we do it, we’ll prove them all wrong,” he explained.

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Baseball is coming to the Bronx for the first time in March — weather permitting — when the Yankees open the season Thursday against formidable foes Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers, and New York is ready to prove its critics wrong.

“I think with the winter that we’ve had, we’re all looking forward to this day,” manager Joe Girardi said.

It’s hard to find anything much odder in the Bronx than hearing the Yankees defend their chances — OK, knowing that a cobra has escaped from the Bronx Zoo and could be slithering around the rugged borough is pretty shocking.

“We’re picking each other and I think that’s all that matters. I know a lot of teams got good over the winter – we did, too,” A.J. Burnett said. “I know a lot of guys in this locker room are hungry from last season and I think we’ll surprise a lot of people.”

Baseball is coming to the Bronx for the first time in March — weather permitting — when the Yankees open the season Thursday against formidable foes Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers, and New York is ready to prove its critics wrong.

Rain and temperatures more typical of the postseason may put a damper on the festivities that will be a little more subdued this year after the Yankees failed to repeat as World Series champions last October, losing to Texas in the AL championship series.

“It’s going to be perfect weather, 40s and rain. A good day to pitch,” Tigers starting catcher Alex Avila said.

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With Verlander on the mound for Detroit on a chilly day, Derek Jeter might have to wait until Game 2 Saturday to move closer to his 3,000th hit. He starts the season 74 from becoming the first player in pinstripes to reach the milestone.

“We’re facing one of the best pitchers in baseball Day 1,” Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “We’ve got to be ready to go or it could be a long day for hitters.”

Verlander spent his March preparing as if it were April, hoping to avoid the same type of start he had last year. The hard throwing right-hander was 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA in opening month of the season. He finished the year 18-9 with a 3.37 ERA.

“He figured out some things, some flaws that he had and some other ways to go about doing things that might help him,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “His concentration level improved on days that he doesn’t have to pitch.”

The first batter Verlander faces will not be Jeter, who slumped to a .270 average last year and eliminated his stride from his much-scrutinized swing. Girardi tapped left-handed hitting Brett Gardner to lead off against righties.

“The job that he did against right-handed pitching last season, he was second in on-base percentage against right-handers … his ability to disrupt defenses, the pressure that he puts on pitching staffs, his ability to score runs we thought it was a good fit,” said Girardi, who will use Jeter in the top spot against lefties.

Jeter is hitting .314 from the second hole and .313 in the leadoff spot for his career.

“It doesn’t make a difference,” Jeter said. “I’ve hit second more than I hit first, so who cares.”

Do you agree with CC that the Yankees can “win the whole thing”? Make your prediction in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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