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Joe Girardi opens up about Monday’s ‘awkward’ return to Yankee Stadium

Joe Girardi made his first return to Yankee Stadium as a manager of a different MLB team when the Philadelphia Phillies visited New York for an exhibition game on Monday. The first-year Phillies skipper to no surprise admitted it made for an “awkward” experience.

Girardi presumably would have enjoyed a warm reception from Yankees fans under normal circumstances, but the experience was of course robbed of any fanfare with the Yankee Stadium stands empty. The subdued atmosphere alone wasn’t the only thing that made Girardi’s return a surreal one.

“That’s just somewhat awkward in and of itself because that’s not something I really did for 10 years,” Girardi said on a Zoom call before Monday’s exhibition game, per the New York Post. “I always came in through the garage, down the stairs, into the home clubhouse, and this, we came through the loading dock from center field, all the way around. That was different.”

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.

Girardi nevertheless enjoyed catching up with some old friends on Monday.

“It was nice to see so many familiar faces, clubhouse people, players, coaches, front office people,” Girardi said.

“That seemed kind of normal, but you’re on the opposite side and it’s different.”

Along with Monday’s 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.

“I had 15, really, fond years being here, whether I was a player or a coach or a manager,” Girardi said of his time with the Yankees. “They were great days and a great part of my life. There’s really a lot of fond memories.”