Phil Coke and Austin Jackson could have been on the other side of this matchup.
They used to be with the Yankees, the former a reliever, the latter a top outfielder prospect. Now, they're playing for the Tigers, the result of a three-team deal that landed the Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson.
There's no venom, but the former Yankees are excited to oppose the Yankees.
"How could I not be?" Coke said. "It's the Yankees man. Of course, you're excited to have the opportunity to come in and face the Yankees, one, and your old team, for two."
Added Jackson: "It's exciting especially at this time and to open up here, it's exciting to see some of the guys I played with and guys I got to become friends with and it's going to be exciting times."
In the rare instance of a deal that works for all parties, the Yankees landed Granderson from the Tigers while trading Coke and Jackson to the Tigers and starter Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks. Arizona traded starter Max Scherzer and reliever Dan Schlereth to Detroit, while the Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to Arizona.
Granderson is a MVP candidate for the Yankees, Jackson is Detroit's center fielder for the future while Scherzer won 15 games this season, and Kennedy won 21 games this year for Arizona. All three teams are also in the playoffs in the second year of the deal.
"From what I understand and from what everybody is saying, whether it's on the TV or the papers, everybody's like, wow, what an amazing deal for everybody, which if you look at it, obviously it was an amazing deal," Coke said. "A year later, everyone's in the playoffs, it's pretty cool."
Coke played with the Yankees for two season in 2008-09 and has been made into a starter with the Tigers. He said he's looking forward to seeing whether he successfully learned from the Yankees about staying focused and preparing if he gets to pitch against them.
"I'm pretty excited just due to the simple fact I know a lot of the guys on the other side and they're all great guys, we have a great group of guys in here and I'm excited for it," Coke said. "There's not a whole lot I can say other than it's good times."
Jackson had been one of the top prospects in the Yankees system before his trade and is showing why with Detroit. He finished second in the rookie of the year voting last season and has been a steady presence at the top of the lineup.
Jackson said he envisioned himself playing center field for the Yankees one day, but this trade was the best opportunity he ever got in baseball. He said Reggie Jackson was helpful in his development with the Yankees.
"I just take it as a normal game," Jackson said. "Obviously I had friends and stuff I made in the organization but it's always good to see those faces. It's just as far as playing baseball, have to take it like any other game."