After going into rebuilding mode, the Yankees fell one win short of reaching the World Series last year behind Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino. Then they added major league home run champion Giancarlo Stanton in a December trade with Miami.
“It’ll be good to be home and see our fans and feel the excitement they’ve got for this team,” Judge said in Toronto.
New York’s advance ticket sales for the season are up about 650,000 from last year. The team’s YES Network averaged a 1.46 rating for spring training telecasts, its highest ever and up 80 percent from last year. Last Thursday’s win at Toronto was New York’s highest-rated opener on YES in seven years, topping out at 608,000 viewers for the final 15 minutes.
But after starting a season 2-0 for the first time since 2011, the Yankees split the four-game series in Toronto after wasting a three-run lead in Sunday’s 7-4 defeat.
Jordan Montgomery starts for the Yankees on Monday afternoon.
“It just kind of fell on me,” he said. “I kind of got lucky and ran into it.”
About 1-3 inches of snow was forecast to fall Sunday night into Monday in New York, but it was to stop early in the morning.
“I’ve never really played in snow,” said Judge, who grew up in California. “I’ve played in cold conditions before. You’ve just got to bundle up. That’s about it.”
Montgomery is a 25-year-old left-hander coming off a 9-7 rookie season. He feels more confident this spring.
“Last year was more of a roller-coaster ride,” he said. “I was feeling good and then I’d have a bad game and be down in the dumps. I feel like as a starting pitcher you’ve just got to be even-keeled with the good and the bad, no matter what, and just stick with your routine and keep your confidence.”
Tampa Bay arrives in New York after winning its opener against Boston and then losing three straight to the Red Sox. Austin Pruitt starts for the Rays after becoming the fifth reliever in club history to win an opener.
The 28-year-old right-hander had been optioned to Triple-A late in spring training, then was recalled when Tampa Bay learned Nathan Eovaldi needed elbow surgery.
Both teams played their opening series in domes. Montgomery was prepared to pitch in lousy conditions and thought back to his time in the minors and as a kid in South Carolina.
“I’ve thrown in the cold before. I guess that’s why they put us up in Trenton and Scranton, to get ready for it,” he said. “I’ve thrown in hail before. I think I’d rather snow.”