One day after Joe Girardi made his return to Miami, he will hand the ball to a pitcher making his first trip back to face the Florida Marlins.
Girardi made his much-anticipated return to Florida on Friday as the Yankees won 5-1 in the series opener. He led Florida to a 78-84 record in 2006 despite having baseball’s youngest team and the lowest payroll at $15 million, but was fired after his lone season with the Marlins despite eventually winning NL Manager of the Year honors.
“Awesome experience for me,” Girardi said. “Learned a lot about managing, learned a lot about all the different things that it takes to be a manager, all the relationships, all the different people, all the different hats that you have to wear.”
The manager met Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria before Friday’s game and said the two have patched up their relationship.
On Saturday, it will be Burnett (5-3, 4.46 ERA) making his return to Land Shark Stadium. Burnett spent his first seven seasons with Florida (33-36) and is second on the franchise’s all-time wins list with 49.
After three years with Toronto, Burnett signed an $82.5 million, five-year contract with New York (38-29) before this season.
The right-hander improved to 14-6 with a 3.19 ERA in 28 interleague starts Sunday when he yielded four hits over seven innings in a 15-0 rout of the New York Mets.
While Burnett will be in the lineup in the NL park, Alex Rodriguez(notes) - baseball’s highest-paid player - won’t. He was benched for two games by Girardi on Friday for what he and the team called “fatigue.”
The three-time AL MVP has yet to play in his hometown of Miami.
“Is he sore? No, he’s not sore,” Girardi said. “But we think he’s a little bit run down and that he could recharge his batteries.”
Rodriguez is batting .145 (8 for 55) in June. He’s in an 0-for-15 slump and is hitting .212 with nine homers and 26 RBIs.
“It’s an American League lineup,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “even though their No. 4 hitter was on the bench.”
His best effort during that streak came Sunday at Toronto, as he pitched a seven-hitter in an 11-3 victory. It was Johnson’s second complete game of the year.
The right-hander has never faced the Yankees.