Notes: Yanks hope for Monday opener
Predicted rain in Oakland could push back Yanks' first game
OAKLAND -- The 2006 Yankees, built for October, are on pins and needles to get into April and unveil the real show.
However, they may have to spend another day on those pins and needles before opening the championship season -- for them, a quite literal interpretation of the formal name for MLB's regular season.
Predicted rainstorms are jeopardizing Monday night's opener here against the A's. The forecast is so credible, it has even influenced the makeup of Oakland's season-opening roster.
"Everyone is pumped up, ready to play. We're anxious to get going," Jason Giambi said Sunday after the Yankees had gone through a 90-minute workout at McAfee Coliseum. "If we get here and they tell us we're not playing, we'll just have to adjust."
While the A's were across the Bay Bridge wrapping up their preseason exhibition series with the Giants at AT&T Park, the Yankees borrowed their field for a get-your-feet-wet workout featuring batting practice.
And by the end, wet is what their feet were, as it started to drizzle.
"If it rains, that's one thing," manager Joe Torre said. "Now if it doesn't stop -- then we've got an issue."
It will stop, but perhaps not in time to allow a game Monday night. In the event of a rainout, the teams will double-up for a day-night doubleheader either Tuesday or Wednesday.
They would be forced into that odd season-starting schedule because this is the Yankees' only Oakland visit of the season, although the A's will make two trips to the Bronx.
Athletics manager Ken Macha and general manager Billy Beane were certain enough of a rainout to option veteran outfielder Bobby Kielty to the minors, allowing the team to accomodate a 12-man pitching staff. Macha considered the extra arm wise for a doubleheader right out of the chute.
Lined up and at 'em: Blessed with an array of potent hitters, Torre considers his batting order so immutable, the manager made a big deal of announcing it -- even to the players.
He convened a preworkout clubhouse meeting for that purpose. The lineup he announced shortly thereafter was most notable for him settling on Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi as its 3-4-5 heart.
Torre's message to the players: "This is how we'll lineup. Live with it."
He had toyed with alternatives to having the two left-handed batters -- Giambi and No. 6 hitter Hideki Matsui -- back-to-back, but ultimately decided that "doesn't bother me."
The Yankees are due to face Oakland left-hander Barry Zito in the opener, but Torre indicated the lineup would have been identical against a right-hander. And, with the exception of injuries and rotating out people for rest days, it may stay identical all season.
"An 0-for-5 or 0-for-10 by someone isn't going to affect it," Torre said. "One thing you learn is that a .290 hitter is going to hit .290 -- after a whole season of 620 at-bats."
T-off shirt: When the Yankees came off the field and returned to the clubhouse, in front of each player's locker was a custom T-shirt bearing a message/challenge.
The white lettering on the blue shirts listed the team's entire 2006 schedule -- from the first game of the Grapefruit League to the last game of the World Series.
Above the schedule, the shirt read: 257 Days/37 Weeks/9 Months.
Below the schedule: One Team/One Goal.
"I think it's cool," Giambi said. "It lays out that we have a lot of personalities, but one common goal. We have 25 superstars who came here to get that opportunity to win."
They feel the need to win.
"The urgency is at an all-time high, because of all the talk about ages and contracts," said Rodriguez, referring to the many Yankees veterans entering the last year of their contracts.
"We've got pressure on us, no doubt, but it's a good pressure," Johnny Damon said. "[General manager] Brian Cashman has put together a good team. If we don't win, it'll be a shame."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.