During the condensed spring training, an excited Vladimir Guerrero Jr. described the Toronto Blue Jays when he said: "Last year was the trailer. What you are going to see this year is the movie."
The Blue Jays make their first trip to Yankee Stadium on Monday night in the opener of a four-game series with the New York Yankees.
Last season, the Blue Jays finished one game behind the Yankees for the second wild-card spot despite posting an 8-2 mark in New York. Guerrero hit five of his 48 homers in New York in 2021, going 6-for-17 with three blasts during a four-game sweep Sept. 6-9 when Toronto outscored the Yankees 25-8.
Monday marks the start of a stretch where 20 of the next 23 games are versus the Yankees, Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox, whom the Blue Jays were 22-22 against last season.
"We're going to be tested straight out of the gate," Toronto right-hander Kevin Gausman said. "Three really good teams that we're going to be playing a lot over the next (few) weeks. It'll kind of give us a sense of what of team we've got, how we stack up against them."
So far, the Blue Jays are a team with 20 runs and seven homers. They were unable to improve to 3-0 on Sunday when they hit four homers but also blew a five-run lead in a 12-6 loss to the visiting Texas Rangers.
Guerrero hit a 467-foot homer, Matt Chapman hit a three-run blast while George Springer and Danny Jansen also connected in a game that saw the Blue Jays strike out 14 times.
The Yankees played three close games against the Boston Red Sox. After rallying for the first two wins, New York took a 4-3 loss on Sunday night when it stranded 11 runners.
Giancarlo Stanton had three hits, including an RBI single, and is off to a 5-for-13 start. Anthony Rizzo drove in six of New York's 13 runs over the weekend.
"Just looking at the at-bats as a whole, we put together a lot of good at-bats on, even hit some balls on the screws today for outs," New York manager Aaron Boone said. "We want to create those opportunities. We couldn't get that big one to break anything open and that's part of it, but overall I like the way we're swinging the at-bats and the at-bats guys are having and just giving ourselves that opportunity."
Alek Manoah, who was 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 20 starts, begins his second season for Toronto. Manoah, who placed eighth in AL Rookie of the Year balloting, also opposed the Yankees on Sept. 8 when he allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings and took a no-decision.
Jameson Taillon, who underwent offseason ankle surgery, begins his second season for the Yankees. He said he has not felt any issues since the surgery.
Taillon was 8-6 with a 4.30 ERA in 29 starts coming off a second Tommy John surgery in May 2019.
Taillon is 1-2 with a 5.21 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays, who have slugged four homers in 19 innings off him.