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For Girardi, Trip To Wrigley A Homecoming; For Yankees, A Chance To Beat Up Cubs

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Yankees manager Joe Girardi signs autographs before a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 17, 2011. (credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Yankees manager Joe Girardi signs autographs before a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 17, 2011. (credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – For Yankees manager Joe Girardi, there couldn’t be a more fitting weekend for a trip back home.

The Yankees travel to Wrigley Field for the second time since the 1938 World Series on Friday when they open a weekend series with the Chicago Cubs.

A Peoria, Ill. native, Girardi played with the Cubs from 1989-92, and again from 2000-02.

“I have a lot of history there, and I enjoyed being there,” Girardi said. “You remember the people you meet around the club, whether it’s the strength coach, the trainers, the clubhouse guys [or] the front-office people. Everybody. The field, it’s a special place to walk into. It’s one of the two that are left of the old stadiums. I always thought it was just fun to go there and to be there, be part of it. A lot of positives.”

He plans to travel to downstate Sunday morning to visit his dad, who has Alzheimer’s disease, on Father’s Day.

“So it is special, (to) see a lot of family and friends the next few days and try to sneak down and see my father Sunday morning is my plan,” Girardi said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

New York (39-28) lost two of three to Chicago (28-40) in its last visit June 6-8, 2003.

Girardi will start Freddy Garcia (5-5, 3.60 ERA) in the opener. Garcia is 4-0 with a 1.47 ERA in six career starts against the Cubs.

The veteran right-hander’s 21 career interleague victories are tied for third-most all-time. He gave up one run over 6 2-3 innings Sunday to earn a 9-1 win over Cleveland.

Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena is 5 for 35 against Garcia, and 13 for 106 (.123) against the Yankees’ trio of probable starters for this weekend.

“I think fans will enjoy it because of the magnitude of the matchup,” Pena said of facing New York.

Cubs manager Mike Quade will give the ball to Doug Davis (0-5, 5.90). The Cubs have lost each of the left-hander’s six starts, though he didn’t earn a decision in a 4-3 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday, when he yielded two runs over five innings.

The left-hander is 3-2 with a 6.28 ERA in six starts against the Yankees, but hasn’t faced them since 2007.

The Cubs ended a run of losing five straight series by winning three of four from Milwaukee. Kosuke Fukudome had three hits and four RBIs in Thursday’s 12-7 victory.

The last time the Yankees visited Wrigley Field, Roger Clemens was denied his 300th win. An injury to Derek Jeter has derailed his chances of recording his 3,000th hit in the Friendly Confines.

This series would have showcased Jeter against emerging Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro, but the Yankee captain was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained right calf.

“I’m like every other baseball guy,” Quade said. “I don’t want this guy coming here getting his 3,000th hit.”

Jeter’s former teammate Alfonso Soriano is disappointed that the shortstop won’t be making the trip.

“I’m not happy my boy’s not playing,” Soriano told the Cubs’ official website. “I was hoping he could have 2,999 hits and get 3,000 here and I can see it. I wanted to see 3,000 here in Chicago.”

The Yankees have enjoyed baseball’s most prolific offense over the last seven days, with Jeter missing most of that time. New York has scored 51 runs while batting .336 with 13 HRs and a .570 slugging percentage in its last seven games – a 6-1 stretch at home.

Curtis Granderson is 13 for 29 with three homers, nine RBIs and 11 runs in New York’s last seven games and Brett Gardner is 12 for 23 with three RBIs and six runs scored in that span.

Mark Teixeira homered three times and drove in six runs in a three-game sweep of Texas capped by Thursday’s 3-2, 12-inning victory. The sweep ended a homestand that began with three losses to Boston that dropped New York into second place in the AL East.

“It’s really positive because the homestand started off terrible with the three losses to the Red Sox,” Girardi said.

What’s your prediction for Yankees-Cubs? Let us know in the comments below..

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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