NEW YORK -- Starting pitcher Dylan Axelrod said he expects butterflies when he takes the mound at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis expects boos.
Lots of them.
The White Sox open a four-game series in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium on Thursday with Axelrod (0-1, 4.85 ERA) on the mound and Youkilis returning for the first time since his trade from the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees bitter rivals. While he knows hell receive rough treatment from Yankee fans, Youkilis expects to take less flack than he would were going in with the Red Sox.
I told everyone here Ill take all the yelling at and screaming at for the whole team for four days, Youkilis said. Theyll probably hound me pretty good. But I know definitely one thing: they dont hate me as much as they used to once I changed teams. Itll be fun.
Axelrod expects to enjoy his turn as well. Though Axelrods road experience in the majors is limited to three starts, he likes pitching in hostile environments. Axelrod will make his third start of the season against the Yankees and said hes not fearful of what awaits him.
I love pitching in front of crowds, Axelrod said. It fires me up. I feel like I get sharper, the more adrenaline I have. Im not nervous whatsoever. Im just excited for the opportunity to be on one of the biggest stages.
While he may not have pitched on many big stages in the majors, Axelrod has in college. He was a relief pitcher and appeared in three of UC Irvines four games when the school reached the 2007 College World Series. Axelrod earned the win in the Anteaters second game -- a 5-4 victory over Cal State Fullerton -- with 4 23 scoreless innings pitched.
The whole experience was great, Axelrod said. Someone told me it was the closest thing to the big leagues that isnt. Its definitely true. The crowd, the way they treat you. Its a terrific atmosphere and one I can draw upon.