TAMPA -- Tonight begins the Yankees first trip to the annual House of Horrors known as Tropicana Field, where they have lost 16 of their last 22 games dating back to 2011, and a particularly nightmarish destination for CC Sabathia, who is 1-7 here with a 4.75 ERA since he became a Yankee in 2009. In fact, CC has not won here in more than four years; his last victory at the Trop was April 10, 2010.
Here's the Yankees lineup that will face David Price tonight:
Derek Jeter SS
On the Mark for Sunday: Mark Teixeira, on the disabled list since April 5 with a right hamstring strain, played three innings at first base in an extended spring game this afternoon, walking twice, striking out once, and going from first to third without pain, according to Joe Girardi. The plan is for Teixeira to play five innings tomorrow, and again on Saturday, and to rejoin the team for Sunday's finale here against the Rays, the first day he is eligible to come off the DL.
Trying it on for Sizemore: Before playing both games of Wednesday's doubleheader, Sizemore had played in just two games since 2011. Now, in his third game back, the Yankees decided to have him play a position he has never played before at any professional level: first base. After Kelly Johnson played all 18 innings yesterday, Girardi decided to give him the day off and give Sizemore, a second baseman by trade, Johnson's first-baseman's glove for tonight's game.
"They told me to be ready for anything and here I am," he said.
Girardi said Sizemore had prepared to play first base in one game for Triple-A Scranton, but the game got rained out. So he will make his debut in a real game at The Trop instead.
"Obviously he has not been in a game and done it, but I’m pretty confident he can do it," Girardi said. "It’s not the most comfortable position to be in, but when you go through injuries sometimes you have to be a little bit creative."
Closer closing in: David Robertson, on the DL since April 7 with a left groin strain, threw a bullpen at the minor-league complex this afternoon and is scheduled to pitch in an extended spring game on Saturday here in Tampa. If all goes well, he and Girardi believe he will be reactivated for Tuesday night's opener against the Red Sox at Fenway. In his stead, Yankee interim closers Shawn Kelley (4), Adam Warren and David Phelps have converted six-of-six save opportunities.
Ryan's hope: Girardi said Brendan Ryan, who has been out all season (on the DL retroactive to March 22) with a cervical spine nerve injury, will play in a game for the first time Saturday, but is still not considered close to a return. "He's progressing well," Girardi said. "But he's still going to need a full spring training."
That does not necessarily mean six weeks, but it does mean 40-50 at-bats, a process that can be sped up by sim games and using Ryan as a DH in minor-league games, in which he can bat in every inning if the club desires.
Roberts returns: Brian Roberts returns to the lineup tonight after missing three games with lower back soreness. Roberts last played in Sunday's game against the Red Sox, but left in the eighth inning and underwent an MRI, which came back clean. Girardi said there was still a chance he could be scratched tonight if his back stiffened up after batting practice.
Invisible man: Because of Tuesday's rainout, Girardi still doesn't have a pitcher for Sunday afternoon's series finale -- he called his probable starter "Mr. TBA" -- but said the Yankees would not call anyone up to make the start, which indicates it will be either Phelps, Warren or Vidal Nuno, depending on how he has to use his bullpen over the first three games. The other pitching matchups are Hiroki Kuroda (2-1, 3.86) vs. LHP Erik Bedard (0-0, 0.00) tomorrow night; Ivan Nova (2-1, 5.94) vs. RHP Chris Archer (1-1, 4.50) Saturday night; and of course, Mr. TBA vs. LHP Cesar Ramos (0-1, 7.50) on Sunday.