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Christian makes Yankee Stadium debut

Yankee Stadium debut for Christian

NEW YORK -- For Justin Christian, there are many lessons to be learned as a Yankees left fielder.

For example, before Friday's game against the Mets at Yankee Stadium, a clubhouse attendant razzed Christian for spreading his belongings around his locker, intruding into pitcher Joba Chamberlain's space.

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But more importantly, he was learning how to deal with the nerves of his debut at Yankee Stadium. And Friday's doubleheader opener was the first game of the Subway Series. Quite an introduction.

"I've been thinking about something like this since I was a little kid," Christian said. "It's just one of those things where it almost doesn't feel real. But it will be very real very soon."

Still, Christian said he doesn't feel more comfortable anywhere else than when he's on the baseball field. He's played on many fields, as he went undrafted out of high school and college -- he attended three different ones, including a community college -- and played independent ball in O'Fallon, Mo., before the Yankees assigned him to their Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2004.

Christian was called up for Tuesday's road opener against the Pirates, and he batted 3-for-8 with two RBIs in two games. He's filling in for injured outfielders Johnny Damon, who started in Thursday's rained-out series finale at Pittsburgh, and Hideki Matsui. Manager Joe Girardi said Damon will start in Friday's nightcap at Shea Stadium.

Christian has yet to attempt to steal a base, his specialty. He was batting .309 with four home runs, 39 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 55 games at Triple-A. Christian has stolen 235 bases in his Minor League career, and has been caught just 39 times.

And while the 28-year-old won't need to worry about the distance between bases, he's had to deal with different ballpark dimensions.

"The field's bigger, higher backdrops, different angles and stuff," Christian said. "To me, that's the hardest thing, being able to make those right adjustments when you're playing defense. Because I never played on this field. I never played in Pittsburgh.

"It'll take me a little bit to get used to."

Just like it took a little time to figure out where he could lay his stuff around his locker.

Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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