The Boston Red Sox's first trip to Yankee Stadium this season was always going to be notable with Bobby Valentine returning to New York. It will be all the more anticipated now that Ichiro Suzuki will take part in one of baseball's best rivalries for the first time.
Suzuki will make his home debut for the New York Yankees when they open a three-game set against Valentine's struggling Red Sox on Friday night.
Boston (49-50) is well behind the AL East-leading Yankees (59-39), although the Red Sox are closer to a wild-card spot.
Valentine will manage in New York for the first time since he was fired by the Mets after the 2002 season, but there's clearly no time for reminiscing with his Red Sox below .500 and losers of five of six.
"We definitely need to win the series," slugger Adrian Gonzalez told the Red Sox's official website. "That goes without saying. We need to win two out of three, if not try and sweep them."
Valentine enjoyed managerial success in Japan after leaving New York, and there will be extra intrigue in both places for Friday's contest. Suzuki, acquired Monday from Seattle, will wear the Yankees' pinstripes for the first time.
"Obviously I've only been there on the visitor's side, but as a visiting player, you get a lot of the fans heckling you a little bit," Suzuki told the Yankees' official website through an interpreter. "And I actually kind of enjoyed that - I enjoyed that with the fans. Now that I'm on the home side, I'm not sure what to expect, what the reaction will be like."
Suzuki went 3 for 12 while playing right field in his first three games for New York against his former team this week in Seattle. He knows the spotlight will be bigger when the Yankees meet the Red Sox.
"I know that there's a lot of tradition involved in that game," he said. "Just a few days ago, I wouldn't even think about being in that situation, that I would be wearing this uniform, playing against the Red Sox."
Suzuki could move to left field Friday with Nick Swisher hopeful of returning after missing five games with a strained left hip flexor.
Swisher and Mark Teixeira have combined for six homers and 26 RBIs to help New York go 5-1 against Boston this year. David Ortiz is 13 for 21 with seven walks in the season series for Boston.
Ortiz is 9 for 20 with two homers against Phil Hughes (9-8, 4.09 ERA), who starts Friday. Hughes is 1-5 with a 7.12 ERA in nine career starts against the Red Sox.
The right-hander yielded two runs in each of his last two outings, pitching 7 2-3 innings in a 2-1 loss at Oakland on Saturday. He's gone 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA in his previous five starts, and has allowed three or fewer earned runs in eight of his last nine.
Aaron Cook (2-3, 3.50) gets the ball for Boston after he allowed five runs over 6 1-3 innings of a 7-3 home defeat to Toronto on Saturday. The right-hander's lone outing against the Yankees came with Colorado on June 25, 2011, when he gave up six runs over 5 2-3 innings in an 8-3 road loss.