FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox and Yankees will go at it for the first time in spring training Tuesday night in Tampa.
It’ll be the first Bobby Valentine vs. Joe Girardi chapter of the rivalry.
“I’m sure there will be a different excitement level in the stands. I’m sure it will feel a little bit different, but I’m not so sure our players will get too caught up with it. I try to tell them not to get too caught up in it during the season. You have to go out and play. There’s always a different atmosphere in the stands,” Joe Girardi told reporters in Tampa.
Girardi was asked to comment on how seriously George Steinbrenner used to take these games.
“I didn’t really feel that as a player,” he said. “I didn’t think Mr. Steinbrenner liked to lose any spring training games. I don’t think anyone likes to lose any games.
“I don’t want guys going out and doing something crazy tomorrow so they miss six weeks of the season. Go out and do what you’re supposed to do, stay within yourself and see where the chips fall. I don’t particularly want Jeet (Derek Jeter) jumping into the stands head-first.”
Asked if he was looking forward to seeing Valentine, he said, “Yeah. I saw him a couple times this winter.”
Asked if any of Valentine’s comments irked him pertaining to whether the Yankees practice a certain relay play, Girardi said, “No. As I told you that day, I worry about our club – my present-day club. I’m not worried about three years ago, a year ago, 10 years ago. I’m worried about now; tomorrow, today.”
Valentine wasn’t as serious when asked about his first Red Sox-Yankees spring training game.
“When will it be? Tomorrow right? Absolutely! I won’t be able to sleep tonight. This will be a big one, ” he said.
Would it be an important game to win?
“Yeah, we want to set the tone tomorrow. We really want to let them know who we are, send a message,” Valentine said.
The lineup doesn’t reflect that.
“Oh, who’s playing? Pedroia’s going. Ellsbury’s going? Geez, the bombers,” Valentine said.