Series meaningful to managers

Series meaningful to managers

KANSAS CITY -- The world's largest video board now hovers over center field at Kauffman Stadium, a "Crown Vision" showcase of some 9,000 square feet of high-definition video that would make any television enthusiast salivate.

It was upon that screen that Yankees manager Joe Girardi watched Royals skipper Trey Hillman jog to home plate during Tuesday's Opening Day ceremonies in the city of fountains, and perhaps Girardi let his mind wander a little bit to what might have been in some alternate universe.

Girardi was ready to manage in '08, and far and away, the Yankees' job was the cream of the crop. But what if Joe Torre had accepted that one-year, incentive-laden contract offer and returned for another year in pinstripes? Sure, the Dodgers job might have opened up, but Kansas City wouldn't have been a place Girardi would have dismissed outright.

"I think there's a lot of young talent here -- I do," Girardi said. "There are some good young players here, and they've got more coming. This is an interesting situation, with the improvements on the stadium. I think Trey will do great."

Hillman spent the past five seasons managing the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan's Pacific League, but he is no stranger to American baseball and particularly the Yankees, having managed in New York's system from 1990 through 2001.

With the Yankees, Hillman compiled an 855-761 mark, with eight winning seasons and four playoff appearances, beginning his managerial career in 1990 with the Class A Oneonta Yankees.

"It's a little bit ironic to me that our home opener is against the team that I spent 13 years of my professional career with," Hillman said. "So there's a little added emphasis on top of it being our home opener and all the excitement that goes with that. It's against the storied New York Yankees and against the franchise that I spent 13 years with in development."

Hillman managed for 12 of those years in the Yankees' Minor League system and handled current Yankees like Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter. When the bell rings at 8:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the Yankees will try to beat Hillman and even out their three-game series at the Big K, but they'll be doing it with friendships in mind.

Some may even secretly root for the Royals to enjoy some success in the American League Central this year -- especially when they wind up head-to-head with the Red Sox.

"Trey has been a great baseball man for a long time," Girardi said. "He was part of that group of Yankees coaches who have all had a lot of success and are in the big leagues. Trey has worked very hard, and I have a lot of respect for Trey, just from me knowing him as a player when he was a coach. I think he'll do a great job."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Ian Kennedy (0-1, 23.14 ERA)
Kennedy will be looking for better results his second time around after the Rays rudely greeted him on Friday in New York. Kennedy could not make it out of the third inning, as Tampa Bay tagged him for six earned runs in 2 2/3 frames, including a five-spot in the third. Kennedy said that it had been his worst outing since a similar game in the Hawaiian Winter League. The 23-year-old right-hander will be making his fifth career start against the Royals, a team he limited to two runs over five innings in a no-decision last Sept. 6.

KC: RHP Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.29 ERA)
Greinke pitched a strong seven innings on Thursday, as the Royals completed a sweep of the Tigers. He gave up six hits and just one run, a solo homer. Greinke worked through a solid lineup and twice wiggled out of one-out, two-on jams. He planned his attack carefully, giving the Tigers more fastballs after they had seen Brian Bannister throw a lot of offspeed pitches the previous day. Greinke follows Bannister again against the Yankees. He will probably need some planning here, too; the Yankees pummeled him for an 11.05 ERA in four outings last year.

Jorge Posada will be sent for an MRI on his right shoulder on Wednesday in Kansas City and will not be in the lineup. Neither will Derek Jeter (strained left quadriceps). ... The Yankees have yet to steal a base in any of their eight games this season. ... Jason Giambi is batting .375 (3-for-8) with two home runs and six RBIs in eight career at-bats against Greinke. ... Alex Rodriguez is 5-for-13 (.385) with a home run and two RBIs against Greinke. ... The Yankees play 18 games on the road in April, and barring any travel plans, it will be the most road games by any team in the month in Major League history.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 0-1, 5.40) at Royals (John Bale, 0-1, 5.68), 8:10 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 2-0, 1.38) at Red Sox (Clay Buchholz, 0-1, 5.40), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 1-1, 3.09) at Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 0-1, 9.64), 3:55 p.m. ET

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