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Joe Girardi admits ‘it’ll be odd’ to return to Yankee Stadium

Joe Girardi will make his first return to Yankee Stadium as a manager of a different MLB team when the Philadelphia Phillies travel to New York for an exhibition game later this month.

To no surprise, the first-year Phillies manager admits the experience is sure to be a unique one filled with conflicting emotions.

“I think it’ll be odd because I’m not used to going in the other dugout or the other locker room. It will be really good to get back and see people that I know,” Girardi said this week, per the New York Daily News. “I look forward to seeing Lou (Cucuzza) on the other side in the clubhouse. I remain friends with Lou and talk to him on a regular basis. But it would be good to get back.

“But it’s gonna be a little bit different. I have to make sure I don’t turn into the wrong door when I come down the stairs, and I think we do come in a different way as the visiting team so that should help out. I won’t lead, I will follow to make sure I go to the right place.”

Giardi won three World Series (1996, 1998, 1999) with the Yankees as player. The 2000 All-Star catcher then led the Yankees to a 2009 World Series title during his managerial tenure from 2008-17.

It of course goes without saying that Girardi has strong ties to the Yankees organization, even though his stint as skipper ended on a sour note when the team and manager agreed to part ways following the 2017 season. Returning to the old stomping grounds of Yankee Stadium surely will be a bittersweet experience for the 55-year-old manager.

Interestingly enough, Yankees brass gave Girardi a glowing review during his subsequent pursuits of another MLB managerial job, so it’s likely he will be warmly greeted by his former organization when the Phillies visit Yankee Stadium on July 20.

Along with that exhibition matchup, the Yankees and Phillies will play a two-game series in Philly on July 27-28. What’s more, the Phillies will return to the Bronx for a series scheduled for July 29-30, which is the Yankees’ season home opener.