FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was renewed on Saturday.
Even if it was only the first meeting in spring training.
Boston sent out a fairly representative lineup for the game, while the Yankees had a few regulars along with some youngsters and New York won 5-3.
The Red Sox won the American League East last season, for the second consecutive year, with a 93-69 record by two games over the Yankees.
But the Yankees went deeper in the postseason, beating the Twins in the wild-card game and the Indians in the ALDS before falling in the ALCS to the World Series champion Astros, who knocked out the Red Sox in the ALDS.
In December, the Yankees acquired slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins, powering the middle of their lineup with the reigning home run champs from each league, along with Aaron Judge. Stanton and Judge led the majors with 59 and 52 homers, respectively, last season.
The Red Sox countered that last week, adding J.D. Martinez, who finished third in the majors with 45 homers last season.
None of the sluggers appeared in the game.
“It should be fun,” Martinez said of joining the rivalry. “But I’m not playing today.”
First-year managers Alex Cora of the Red Sox and Aaron Boone of the Yankees each has been part of the rivalry during their playing careers.
“I played in Dodgers-Giants, Red Sox-Yankees pretty similar,” Cora said. “It’s big for everybody. We had this function yesterday and somebody brought it up. ‘Big game tomorrow … ” What? Not really. People love it. It’s good for baseball. People feel we’re going to be in the hunt.
“It seems like everybody wants to go to that (Red Sox-Yankees) series. Everybody wants tickets. I know people want to watch the Red Sox and Yankees, but I told my mother a lot of people in Tampa want to watch the Rays and Red Sox. It’s easier to get tickets.”
So, even though this was just a spring training game, Boone thought it might be beneficial for some of his younger players to experience what it could be like at some point in the future for them, maybe even this season.
“I think there’s something to that,” Boone said. “Yeah, I think anyone that comes up in this organization understands the Red Sox-Yankee thing.
“So I think it’s good experience for those guys. But you don’t get too far ahead of yourself, either. You do understand that it’s early March and today’s just another day in our process of being ready in a few weeks.”
Boone hit one of the most memorable home runs in the history of the rivalry, with a walk-off shot in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.
“Which one?” Boone joked. “Yeah, I remember it and I am reminded a lot.”
He said he’s been treated well by fans in Boston — but acknowledged that could change with his new role.
Each manager respects the other and the opposing team.
“They’re the team to beat,” Cora said. “If you ask (Yankees general manager Brian Cashman), we’re the team to beat. At the end of the day the team to beat is the Houston Astros.”