Yanks lose 1st game at Steinbrenner Field

March 27, 2008 5:20:45 PM PDT
It was almost a perfect day for New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.Derek Jeter homered Thursday but the Yankees lost 5-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

The Yankees' spring training home, formerly Legends Field, was renamed in honor of the owner in a pregame ceremony. The Tampa City Council and the Hillsborough County Commission recently approved resolutions calling for the name change.

"Well deserved," Jeter said. "They could have named it for him when they opened the field. What he's meant, not only to the Yankees organization, but what he's done for the community of Tampa. A special day. I'm very happy for him."

Steinbrenner helped pull off a cover of a new sign above the scoreboard. His wife, Joan, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

"It was great," George Steinbrenner said. "It was a great ceremony."

Tom Gorzelanny, scheduled to pitch the Pirates' second regular-season game, gave up one run and two hits in six innings.

"I took this start as a real start," Gorzelanny said. "I wanted to go out there and start like I was pitching the season, try to get out there and kind of get in that mode so I can be ready to go the next time out. It was definitely a different feeling out there, I treated it as if were a regular-season start."

Gorzelanny struck out two and walked two. He lowered his spring ERA from 8.74 to 6.23.

"The pitch count was low, he was efficient in the strike zone, he had some life to it," Pirates manager John Russell said. "It's nice to see going into the season. All of the guys have pitched pretty well the last few starts. That's kind of what you're looking for right there."

Kei Igawa, bidding to be the long man in the Yankees bullpen, started and allowed four runs and five hits over 3 1-3 innings. Jeff Karstens, considered the front-runner for the role, injured his groin pitching in the fifth and will not be ready to start the regular season.

"He felt something," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He didn't feel a pop, which is a good thing."

Karstens will undergo an MRI exam Friday.

The Yankees will conclude spring training with games Friday and Saturday at the Florida Marlins. New York opens the regular season Monday against Toronto at Yankee Stadium.