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Royals hosting Yanks in home opener

Royals hosting Yanks in KC opener

Trey Hillman arrived at Surprise, Ariz., on Feb. 5 to begin preparing his Royals for the 2008 season. Now, more than two months later, he'll display them for the first time at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals' home schedule begins with a 3:10 p.m. CT game on Tuesday against the New York Yankees.

Hillman, 45, is managing for the first time in the Major Leagues, and he already has six road games in his ledger at Detroit and Minnesota. Now comes Opening Day at home, where a sellout crowd of more than 37,000 will jam into the under-renovation stadium for a mid-afternoon first pitch.

"I'm looking forward to it, but, honestly, every day is exciting for me," Hillman said. "We had the opener in Detroit, then coming to the Metrodome was very exciting for me. I don't lose the excitement."

The Yankees are providing the opposition for the Royals' home opener for the third time. The Royals won the two previous games, in 1977 and 1984, and stand 20-19 in home openers, including 18-17 at Kauffman Stadium.

"It's a little bit ironic to me that our home opener is against the team that I spent 13 years of my professional career with," Hillman said. "So there's a little added emphasis on top of it being our home opener and all the excitement that goes with that. It's against the storied New York Yankees and against the franchise that I spent 13 years with in development."

Hillman managed for 12 of those years in the Yankees' Minor League system and handled such current Yankees as Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter.

"There are still close to a handful of guys that I know over there," he said.

Hillman's first home game as manager will bring his wife, Marie, his father, Royce, and other family and friends to Kansas City. His two children, T.J. and Brianna, cannot come because of school obligations in Texas.

This also will be the first game in Kansas City with the Royals for new slugger Jose Guillen, signed to a three-year, $36 million contract to rev up the offense. He said he'll approach this game like any other, although there is a big difference.

"It'll be nice to be home," Guillen said. "It's always nice to be in front of your home crowd that's supporting you and be home and be with your family. That's the good thing about it for me."

Right-hander Brian Bannister will start for the Royals, and he's coming off seven brilliant innings, holding the Tigers scoreless on two hits in the second game of KC's sweep of Detroit in the first series of the season.

It was the Bannister that Hillman expected after his big rookie season but didn't see until his last two starts in Spring Training.

"I saw the Brian Bannister that everyone had reported and that I saw on video," Hillman said. "Like I said in Spring Training, I knew it was in there, but I told Banny that I'd sure appreciate seeing it before the season started."

Bannister certainly did that and seems well-primed for the Yankees.

"I'm trying to approach it the same way I approached the Tigers," Bannister said. "I knew coming in that my first two games were going to be a challenge, and I've been prepared for them. I'm just glad I got off to a good start, and I'm going to try to carry that momentum over. The Yankees are a tough team, but there's also going to be a lot adrenaline because there will be a lot people there. Hopefully, the weather cooperates."

That's iffy. According to the Weather Channel, Kansas City temperatures for Tuesday will range from 57 to 37 degrees with an 80-percent chance of rain.

Gates to the stadium will open at 1 p.m. CT on Tuesday and the pregame ceremonies will begin at 2:30 p.m. Some of the Opening Day highlights:

• This will be the debut of CrownVision, the 84-by-105 foot video board, largest in the world.

• An out-of-town scoreboard along the left-field wall will be operating for the first time.

• The new bullpens will have pitchers warming up parallel to the fence line.

• George Brett, John Mayberry, Frank White and John Wathan will be among alumni on the field.

• Rival football coaches Mark Mangino of Kansas and Gary Pinkel of Missouri will share first-pitch honors.

• Legendary scout Art Stewart, who has served the Royals since 1969, will be this year's first occupant of the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat.

• Children of U.S. Military personnel will line up with the players before the game.

• Country band Emerson Drive will perform the National Anthem.

• The colors will be presented by the Kansas City Police and Fire Departments.

• An A-10 flyover from Whiteman Air Force Base will conclude the pregame ceremonies.

Pitching matchup
KC: RHP Brian Bannister (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Bannister couldn't have been better in his 2008 debut against the vaunted Tigers lineup. He worked seven scoreless innings and gave up just two singles, both to Edgar Renteria. He walked none and had four strikeouts. Bannister mixed his pitches masterfully: in and out, hard and soft. He'll face another tough lineup in the Yankees, a club that smacked him around for seven runs in five innings in their only face-off last season.

NYY: RHP Phil Hughes (0-0, 3.00 ERA)
Hughes will make his second start of the season after taking a no-decision in his first start against Toronto, when he held the Blue Jays to two runs and four hits over six innings. After the game, manager Joe Girardi complimented Hughes' ability to spot his fastball and throw his curveball for strikes. Hughes will be making his second career start against the Royals, who tagged him for six runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings last Aug. 4.

Crown Points
The Yankees series will draw a heavy influx of Japanese journalists. Not only do the Royals have Hideo Nomo and Yasuhiko Yabuta, the Bronx Bombers have Hideki Matsui. ... The Royals will not work out on Monday's open date, giving players a chance to settle into KC. ... Because of the stadium renovations that are under way, parking procedures have changed. Fans are encouraged to check royals.com for Parking at "the K" before leaving for the game.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN-HD

On radio
• KCSP 610

Up next
• Wednesday: Royals (Zack Greinke, 1-0, 1.29) vs. Yankees (Ian Kennedy, 0-1, 23.14), 7:10 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Royals (John Bale, 0-1, 5.58) vs. Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 0-1, 5.40), 7:10 p.m. CT
• Friday: Royals (TBD) vs. Twins (TBD), 7:10 p.m. CT

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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