The Derek Jeter farewell tour finally lands in the Bronx on Monday afternoon, as the Yankees' captain will jog out of the dugout for a home opener in the Bronx one final time.
"It almost doesn't feel like the season is underway until you get to your home opener," Jeter said. "Especially missing last year, I'm looking forward to this one."
The festivities are slated to start around 12:30 p.m. ET in advance of the 1:05 p.m. first pitch against the Orioles (2-4). The Yankees (3-3) will send right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to the mound against Baltimore right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez is fresh off taking the loss in Wednesday's game against the Boston Red Sox, done in by a pair of homers, and he is 1-3 with a 6.45 ERA in four career outings against the Yankees, including a 1-1 mark with a 4.15 ERA in two starts at Yankee Stadium.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he's looking forward to seeing Jimenez pitch now that his season debut is behind him.
"But it's going to be tough environment, Opening Day at Yankee Stadium," Showalter said. "[Compared to] Opening Day [for Jimenez] at Camden Yards, which one do you think is tougher? I think our place -- I think the expectation of pitching well at our place. I want him to feel like he's playing with house money. Nobody is expecting him [to win]; they feel like that's going to be a real challenge. I think it's tougher for professional athletes when they are expected to do well. I think Ubaldo expects to do well every time out."
Yankee Stadium is a tough enough place to play, but Jimenez -- signed to a four-year, $50 million deal this winter -- will be up against a crowd full of emotions as Jeter will take part in a ceremony reuniting the members of the "Core Four." Jeter and Jorge Posada will catch ceremonial first pitches from Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera in from of an expected sellout crowd.
"I can't tell you what's going to happen," Jeter said of the fans' reaction. "Fans have always treated me good throughout my career. I don't know what it's going to feel like, what the atmosphere will be like. I hope we have good weather, but I have no idea."
Jeter said that his parents, Charles and Dorothy, will be in attendance for his final home opener. No matter what happens in the game, it promises to add another memorable afternoon to a career that has been filled with them.
"There's always something special about Opening Day," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "To know that it's your last one, I think it will mean a lot."
Orioles: Hardy sits out
Shortstop J.J. Hardy was a late scratch from Sunday's 3-1 win over Detroit and had his batting-practice session cut short due to more back spasms, this time in a different place than he was used to.
Hardy almost missed Friday's game and had been dealing with nagging back spasms, which he played through on Wednesday and Thursday before taking off the series opener in Detroit. Though his most recent spasms are in a different place, it's still a concern for the Orioles.
"Quite frankly, he's not a whole lot better right now," Showalter said. "We are hoping he can manage. ... I think it is a byproduct of a lot of the games and the weather we're playing in with these day games. He'll be back, hopefully sooner than later."
Yankees: Roberts tries on his pinstripes
Brian Roberts played the first 13 seasons of his career in Orioles orange, so the Yankees' second baseman knows it will feel a little strange to see so many familiar faces on the third-base line during Monday's pregame introductions at Yankee Stadium.
"To look over on the other side and see all of my buddies over there, it's going to be very different," Roberts said. "Spring Training was one thing, but when you strap it on in the regular season -- I don't know what it's going to be like. I don't know how weird it is going to be to see it and experience it in person, I guess."
Roberts said that he was joking with Jeter this weekend about how odd it will be to walk into the home clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. Jeter can relate; the captain told Roberts that he has never set foot in the visitors' clubhouse in the Bronx.
Roberts said that he's looking forward to the pageantry of Jeter's final Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, commenting that it might rank alongside Cal Ripken Jr.'s final game in 2001 as one of the top events he has been able to witness as a player.
"I think it's going to be pretty cool," Roberts said. "Obviously, you see what it's been like just on the road. You can only imagine in front of our home fans what it's going to be like. You get to see everyone show their appreciation for everything he's done for the city and the organization and the game of baseball."
• The Yankees won 10 of the 19 meetings between the two American League East rivals last season.
• Brett Gardner's home run in Sunday's 6-4 win at Toronto was the Yankees' first of the season.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Bryan Hoch contributed reporting. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.