Yanks prep for title defense vs. Pirates

Yanks get ready for title defense vs. Pirates

TAMPA, Fla. -- When the Yankees trot out of the home dugout at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday, they'll be greeted by two freshly painted logos near the baselines, an ever-present reminder of what was accomplished last season.

But while those red, white and blue blades of grass proclaim them as the 2009 World Series champions, the Yankees need to turn the page and try to make it a repeat.

"It's probably the toughest thing to try to do it again," catcher Jorge Posada said. "Everybody plays you a little different when we come to town. You have to be ready, because they're trying to get you. You're the world champions, and they're trying to play a little better. It's very challenging."

That mission gets under way as the Yankees welcome the Pirates to town for their Grapefruit League opener at 1:05 p.m. ET, shown live on MLB.TV and kicking off a 33-game schedule that includes 16 home games.

"I think guys are excited to start playing baseball," manager Joe Girardi said. "We've practiced for two weeks, and now it's time to get at it."

Fifth-starter candidate Chad Gaudin will start, with a pack of pitchers set to follow. Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves, Jonathan Albaladejo, Wilkins Arias, Jason Hirsh, Royce Ring, Amaury Sanit and Zack Segovia have been instructed to be at the ready.

As for the lineup, Girardi said that fans should expect some very familiar faces to be digging in against Pirates starter Paul Maholm -- who pitched against a Yankees lineup that included the 60-year-old Billy Crystal here in 2008 -- and former Bomber Ross Ohlendorf.

"You'll see probably five or six guys that you would anticipate being in the Opening Day lineup," Girardi said. "The thing that we have to remember is early on in camp, you don't want to play guys too many days in a row. Some guys are going to play every other day."

Wednesday could mark the pinstriped debut for Curtis Granderson, as Girardi said that he will "definitely" play the 29-year-old All-Star outfielder alongside speedster Brett Gardner in several games this spring.

"You come in, and you understand what it takes to win," Granderson said. "You've got to work -- nothing is going to be handed to you. We're going to work hard, and it all comes from this clubhouse and the team. If we don't want it and we don't go out there and do it, it's not going to happen."

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Gold Glove first baseman Mark Teixeira said that the Yankees should feel like the favorites to win the World Series again and that getting fired up to defend the title will not be an issue for the team.

Why not?

"Because we're the Yankees," Teixeira said. "If you get complacent, it's going to be a tough year for you. Once you taste a championship and taste that victory, it just makes you want it even more. You realize it's everything you've ever hoped for."

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