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Rays approve of Yanks' new home

Rays approve of Yanks' new home

NEW YORK -- Rays players moved around the clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon, checking out the visiting team's digs for the first time at the new Yankee Stadium. And while the approval rating was high, there was some sadness about the stadium left behind.

"It's beautiful," Gabe Kapler said. "It's a beautiful ballpark, and coming off the train seeing the old stadium on the left and the new stadium on the right, you can really tell how much work was put into this place."

Troy Percival said simply: "They've done a nice job."

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The veteran reliever pointed out the obvious that the clubhouse was the biggest difference.

"You don't walk through the asbestos-filled hallways that reek," Percival said. "Now you come in, you have a nice clean place. The food room is fantastic as far as the amenities now. You're not cramped now with 10 guys in a 15-foot space. It's just bigger, everything.

"It's not like beyond what other visiting clubhouses are like, but it's a lot better than what was over there. They did a good job with what they had over there [at the original Yankee Stadium]. Now they just have a lot more to work with."

Kapler raved about the amenities that make the new stadium special.

"It's definitely nice to have the batting cage right behind the dugout, for obvious reasons before the game getting ready to play," Kapler said. "All those things, having it nice and close -- the food room is huge, the lounge is huge and has a ton of great food for those of us who like to eat. It's a very comfortable space.

"The weight room is really nice, too. It's a lot different than having to walk over and share with the other club. It's definitely nicer to have everything in one place."

The Rays should be happy to see the new park -- based on their record at the old one. In 91 games at the old Yankee Stadium, Tampa Bay went 26-65 (.286) and 4-22-5 in 31 all-time series there.

"It's pretty cool," B.J. Upton said. "Nice facility. But it still doesn't have that Yankee Stadium feel. It was just Yankee Stadium. Obviously, this new one is similar. But like I said, it's still not the same."

Despite the state of the new stadium, Kapler said he could already feel himself missing the old ballpark and clubhouse, with all of the hidden nooks and crannies throughout the underbelly of the park.

"So the new ballparks don't sit quite as well with me as the old ballparks," Kapler said. "The mystique of the old ballparks that I don't think will ever be duplicated."

Kapler named Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field as being in that class.

"I also would have put the old Tiger Stadium in [that] class, too," Kapler said.

Upton does not believe the change will take away the Yankees' home-field mojo.

"No, I think they're going to play baseball regardless," Upton said. "I just know for me, walking up that tunnel and walking into that dugout, the fans are right on top of you, just a little bit different feel in this place."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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