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Ross excited to make first start behind plate

NEW YORK -- After spending the first two games as an observer, catcher David Ross had his Opening Day on Thursday night, making his debut for the Red Sox in the finale of a three-game series against the Yankees.

"Today is definitely my Opening Day," Ross said. "When you have to wait around, I think the nerves are probably for me more than anybody else. I'm definitely feel excited about today. I'm a little nervous and ready to be back there to catch that first pitch."

Though Ross is a backup player, he is one of the newcomers the Red Sox are most excited about.

With his catching intelligence and some pop in his bat, Ross has a lot to offer.

"All the work we do in Spring Training is to get to where we can play with the lights on and the extra deck up top in the stands," Ross said. "I'm excited and ready to get this first one under my belt."

Ross immediately sprung into action, throwing out Brett Gardner on an attempted steal in the bottom of the first.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was strong offensively over the first two games, going 3-for-7 with three walks, but manager John Farrell had designated Thursday for Ross before the series started and he saw no reason to change those plans.

Lefty Andy Pettitte was pitching for New York, and Saltalamacchia is a stronger hitter against righties. Ross is 4-for-12 in his career against Pettitte.

"He's had good numbers against Andy," said Farrell. "He's worked well with Ryan [Dempster] in Spring Training for the couple of times that we did see him pair up with Dempster. The fact is, he's an important part of our club and we want to get him in the mix, and with a late arrival into Toronto tonight, with righty [Josh] Johnson going tomorrow, Salty will catch there. There's probably three or four different factors that went into today's lineup with David."

The only other lineup change was Jonny Gomes moving back to the designated hitter spot after getting Wednesday off. Gomes will always start against lefties. Daniel Nava got the night off.

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.
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