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Short porch to beckon at new Stadium

Short porch to beckon

Forced to consider the minuscule differences between the old Yankee Stadium and this new one, Jorge Posada laughed.

"It might be a little smaller," he joked.

Hardly. The Yankees made sure of that, copying the exact field dimensions of their old park and pasting them into their new one. That means that the famous short porch in right field will again beckon hitters, counting down from 314 feet. The 408-foot center-field wall will make its return, flanked by the same old power alleys. And so the new stadium, barring a few changes in wind patterns, should play almost exactly the same as the old one -- historically, a ballpark that favors neither hitters nor pitchers.

"When it comes down to the playing field," Posada said, "I'm glad they just kept everything the same."

And he should be. With most of his power coming from the left side of the plate, Posada stands to benefit as much as anyone from the right-field porch, which rises up just 314 feet away from home plate. Many of Posada's 221 career home runs have dropped over an identical wall at the old Yankee Stadium. Quite a few more of them may drop over this one.

Consider also first baseman Mark Teixeira, the team's primary offensive acquisition this winter. Teixeira, like Posada, draws most of his power from the left side of the plate and figures to benefit from the old dimensions, in much the same way that left-handed legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig did at the original Yankee Stadium. Teixeira may not be Gehrig, but he'll be aiming for a similar target.

"I'm going to get a chance to be the first first baseman the Yankees have in the new stadium," Teixeira said on the day his deal was announced. "That's going to be pretty sweet."

The Yankees have a storied history of left-handed and switch-hitting sluggers taking advantage of that wall, from Ruth and Gehrig to Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, later to Bobby Murcer and Reggie Jackson and Teixeira's childhood idol, Don Mattingly. Now, Teixeira has a chance to be next.

At the least, he'll have a chance to be first. With Alex Rodriguez set to miss the beginning of this season due to right hip surgery, Teixeira will be the Yankees' foremost power threat heading into their April 16 home opener. The short porch beckons.

Building a park with identical dimensions also makes things easier on the outfielders, who won't have to spend the first few weeks of April feeling their way around the outfield wall. Even those new to the Yankees, such as outfielder Nick Swisher, have played here before.

The stadium is new, but the field is not.

"Everybody knows Yankee Stadium for that -- the dimensions, the field," closer Mariano Rivera said. "That's what Yankee Stadium is."

About the only difference is the ballpark's placement across 161st St. from the old one. Even so, the Yankees neutralized that discrepancy by pointing home plate in the same direction as always, which should cause winds to play with fly balls the same way they did in the old park. And the sun, always an issue for outfielders during day games, will not change.

So, no, the Yankees don't need to wonder about their home-field advantage heading into the first games of new Yankee Stadium history. They already know. It will all be the same.

As far as the team is concerned, the only alterations that may affect game play will come underneath the stadium, in the tunnel behind the dugout, where a batting cage and video room will allow Yankees players to analyze at-bats and tinker with their swings just steps from the batter's box. They will no longer need to share any facilities with the visiting team.

But once they're on the field, nearly everything will seem unchanged.

"The dimensions are the same, and you've got to believe the field is going to play pretty much the same," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The infield is going to be a little bit different, but infields change depending on the weather. We still have our great fans and that's the important thing. We might get lost in the clubhouse the first couple of days, but we'll figure that out."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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