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Homer-happy Stadium creating a buzz

Homer-happy Stadium creating a buzz

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NEW YORK -- No one got much of a look at the Yankee Stadium field before Monday's rainout was announced, allowing everyone another 24 hours or so to ponder if the new building really is a launching pad.

Twenty home runs were hit in the Yankees' first four regular-season home games this year, with another six clubbed during a pair of preseason exhibitions. So far, the buzz has been about a supposed jet stream that promises to help carry fly balls past the right-field wall.

"It was great weather the last four games, it was perfect," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "The wind was blowing out a little bit and I'm not a meteorologist, so I don't know what's going to happen the rest of the year."

The sample size has been small, but that hasn't stopped some people from hazarding guesses. AccuWeather's Gina Cherundolo published an analysis Wednesday that noted the shell of Yankee Stadium is shaped differently than the old park, and the angle of seating in the new stadium may be affecting wind speed across the field.

Because the old Stadium had stacked tiers and a large upper deck, the wind would swirl and spiral over the playing field, Cherundolo wrote. The new version has fewer stacked tiers and the upper deck has a less sharp slope, which could enable winds to blow across the field with less restriction.

It may take half a season or more to get a completely clear picture. But four games in, all of baseball can certainly see that Yankee Stadium is playing differently from the abandoned building across 161st Street.

"Sometimes you think a ball that's going to blow into the stands doesn't blow into the stands," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You look at the flags and you see the wind blowing across the field, and it doesn't necessarily take the ball across the field."

Teixeira noted that he saw balls hit in the four-game series against the Indians that probably should not have left the park.

"My home run against [Fausto] Carmona, I didn't think I got all of it," Teixeira said. "There are a couple of parks out there that the ball just travels well, and this might be one of them."

And if so, Teixeira said that would be just fine for him.

"I think the best hitters' park in all of baseball is Philadelphia, and they won the World Series last year," Teixeira said. "We're not going to use it as any excuse. We're not going to worry about it. We're playing the same game, we're playing in the same park. If there's a high-scoring game, I hope that our team scores more runs than the other team."

A's slugger Jason Giambi, who played with the Yankees from 2002-08, said that he is curiously anticipating taking his first swings at the new cathedral when this series begins on Tuesday.

"We were watching TV and I know a lot of people have been saying that there possibly could [be a wind tunnel]," Giambi said. "When you change things in a stadium, it definitely changes. I remember in Chicago [at U.S. Cellular Field], it used to be a tough stadium to hit home runs, and then all of a sudden they put up all those billboards around center field. Now, they give up a ton of home runs there."

Girardi said that if it turns out that the new Yankee Stadium really is a homer haven, it won't be a detriment to the goals the Yankees are trying to accomplish. It could even wind up being a plus.

"I like the guys that we put out in the lineup, I do," Girardi said. "People can talk about how a park plays, but the thing is that both teams play in that park. Both teams get to hit in that park. Obviously we'll have a better understanding of our park because we play here more than other teams, and that should help us. We have a lot of guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark."

Pitching matchup
NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (1-0, 2.51 ERA)
Pettitte continued to hold up his end of the starting rotation with a solid outing against the Rays on Wednesday at Tropicana Field. He allowed three runs in 7 1/3 innings, his second consecutive start of seven or more innings. Pettitte's command has been impeccable so far. In 14 1/3 innings, he has walked two batters while striking out 10. Pettitte was 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two starts last season against Oakland. In his career against the Athletics, Pettitte is 10-5 with a 3.27 ERA in 19 starts.

OAK: LHP Dana Eveland (0-0, 6.75 ERA)
Eveland, 25, was solid in his first start of the year, allowing three runs over six innings against the host Angels, but he took a step back in start No. 2. Facing the Red Sox at home, Eveland was tagged for three runs on four hits and one walk in the first inning alone, and he couldn't hold the lead the A's gave him after taking him off the hook with a big first inning of their own. Eveland was pulled with two out in the fifth inning, charged with five runs on eight hits and three walks. He made one start against New York last season and lost despite allowing two runs over six innings.

Tidbits
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez increased his on-field drills Monday in Tampa, Fla., making 19 throws to first base and nine to second base after fielding grounders, The Associated Press reported. A-Rod also hit 10 home runs in 75 batting-practice swings, and Girardi said that Rodriguez could play in a Minor League game "within two weeks." ... The Yankees remain optimistic that outfielder Xavier Nady (right elbow) may be able to avoid season-ending Tommy John surgery. Physical documents from Nady's tests were sent to Dr. Lewis Yocum in California for Tuesday delivery. ... Catcher Jose Molina has caught right-hander A.J. Burnett in all three of his starts, but Girardi declined to say that battery would continue. ... The Yankees head into this series vs. the A's batting .320 (32-for-100) vs. left-handers this season.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• YES

On radio
• WCBS 880, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
Wednesday: Yankees (CC Sabathia, 1-1, 3.57) vs. Athletics (Brett Anderson, 0-2, 4.85), 1:05 p.m. ET
Thursday: Off-day
Friday: Yankees (Joba Chamberlain, 0-0, 5.06) at Red Sox (Jon Lester, 1-2, 5.50), 7:10 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch 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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