MIAMI -- Last October, when the New York Yankees faced the Houston Astros and their superlative left-hander Dallas Keuchel, manager Joe Girardi chose to sit Jacoby Ellsbury, his $153 million center fielder, in favor of right-handed hitter Chris Young.
This season, which begins Monday at Yankee Stadium with a rematch of that ill-fated game, the part of Young will be played by Aaron Hicks, who was acquired from Minnesota in a trade for John Ryan Murphy. But this time, the part of Ellsbury is likely to be assumed by Brett Gardner.
Girardi would not reveal his Opening Day lineup except to concede that it was likely to include Hicks. But assuming Ellsbury -- who was understandably unhappy about his playoff benching last October -- is given the chance to face Keuchel this year, here is a probable Yankees lineup for the opener:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Chase Headley 3B*
Aaron Hicks LF
Masahiro Tanaka RHP
*There is some uncertainty about Headley, who missed the final two spring training games with an illness. Girardi could not guarantee he would be ready to play. In that case, newcomer Ronald Torreyes is likely to get the start and bat ninth.