Joe Girardi returns to New York ahead of Phillies managing debut

NEW YORK >> Joe Girardi’s new path was evident today. And unfamiliar.

So was the result.

Girardi’s Philadelphia Phillies tied the New York Yankees 2-2 today in a preseason exhibition after Mauricio Llovera allowed a solo home run in the ninth to pinch hitter Mike Ford.

A tie was not what he had envisioned.

“That doesn’t happen in real baseball,” said Girardi, who started his day by watching a simulated intrasquad game. “But, obviously, we’ve got a long trip back, and we’ve had a long day of baseball.”

About to start his first season as Philadelphia’s manager, he was at Yankee Stadium for a prep ahead of his team’s pandemic-delayed opener Friday at home against Miami. He had been back just once since he was cut loose by the Yankees, for an appearance.

“I always came in through the garage, down the stairs, into the home clubhouse,” he said. “We came through the loading dock and from center field all the way around. So that was different.”

Not everything was a change.

“I did see a lot of familiar faces in Lou Cucuzza and and his clubhouse staff,” he said, referring to New York’s director of clubhouse operations. “So that seemed kind of normal. But you’re on the opposite side, and it’s different.”

After winning three World Series titles as a catcher with the Yankees, Girardi began his managing career in 2006 with the Marlins, led the team to a 78-84 record and was fired — before he was voted NL Manager of the Year.

He was hired by the Yankees after the 2007 season to replace Joe Torre, managed New York to its 27th title in 2009 and was let go by the Yankees after the 2017 season. He decade-long record in New York was 910-710 but resulted in just one pennant.

Girardi was hired by the Phillies during the offseason to replace Gabe Kapler and was reunited with shortstop Didi Gregorius, who left the Yankees and agreed to a $14 million, one-year deal.

“He’s played extremely well, especially in this 2.0, as we call it,” Girardi said. “I think he’s grown really fond of his teammates and his teammates love him.”

Gregorius spoke with old teammates before the game, then went 1 for 3 in the tie. He doubled and scored in the first off prospect Deivi Garcia and was replaced by another popular ex-New York player, Ronald Torreyes.

Aaron Judge hit a fifth-inning home run off Vince Velasquez, a 428-field, opposite-field drive into the right-field seats for his third homer in two games since returning from a broken rib. Judge was unsure whether to circle the bases because he was allowed to bat with three outs — DJ LeMahieu had hit into an inning-ending double play but the Phillies wanted Velasquez to face one more batter.

Garcia, a hard-throwing 21-year-old right-hander, rose last year from Class A to Double-A and then Triple-A, where he struggled. He lasted 1 2/3 innings and 46 pitches against Philadelphia, allowing two runs, four hits and two walks with one strikeout — of Jean Segura in the first.

JT Realmuto hit a run-scoring double in the first. Roman Quinn’s RBI single in the second was an unearned run because of Garcia’s throwing error on a pickoff attempt to first.

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