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updated: 5/20/2014 10:45 PM

Yankees steal the show at Wrigley before pitch is thrown

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  • Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, left, talks with Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks before Tuesday night's game at Wrigley Field.

    Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, left, talks with Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks before Tuesday night's game at Wrigley Field.
    Associated Press


The New York Yankees took over Wrigley Field on Tuesday.

It's just as well, with nothing much going on with the Cubs these days. The most decorated team in baseball history strolled into Wrigley and brought a few thousand of their fans with them.

This Midwestern shrine even sounded a little like the Bronx during batting practice when a young fan called out to Yankees captain Derek Jeter for an autograph.

"Come on, 'Jetah,'" the kid shrieked, sounding like a genuine New Yawkah.

The media seemed to be buying into the fun, too. The large New York reporting crowd consisted of the throngs from all of the news outlets in Gotham in addition to many from Japan who were on hand to cover the start of Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

There were enough story lines for Chicago reporters, who seemed more interested in the New York side of the field than the Cubs side.

Holding court in three separate news conferences were Yankees manager and ex-Cubs catcher Joe Girardi, captain Derek Jeter and former Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano.

"It's always good to come back to Chicago," said Soriano, who was greeted with nice applause, if not outright cheering, during pregame introductions and his first at-bat. "It's a great city. I spent a lot of time here. I'm happy I'm back."

Soriano didn't hesitate when asked why he was glad to be back.

"The fans," he said. "Playing here, I enjoyed myself playing here."

Those same fans had their up-and-down moments with Soriano, who hit 181 home runs and had an OPS of .812 with the Cubs from 2007 until being traded to New York last July.

No doubt the fans occasional disillusionment with Soriano stemmed from the eight-year, $136 million contract former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry gave Soriano in the fall of 2006.

"The problem is, when I played here, I think they focused on the contract, not the player," Soriano said. "I was playing every day with pain in my knee and trying to make the team better. But they did not see that. I think they saw the contract.

"They did not see who I am, how I play. But more important for me is that the players and the coaches and the front office saw how hard I worked to play and make the team better."

As for Girardi, he played in two stints with the Cubs, from 1989-92 and from 2000-02. Many fans and some media members wanted Girardi hired as manager before the 2007 season, when Hendry hired Lou Piniella and again this past off-season.

Girardi opted to stay in New York, where he has won as both a player and manager.

"It was a place we wanted to be," he said. "It was the place that we consider home. It was a place that my kids considered home. For us, they just wanted us back, and it worked out. It's not often that a manager gets to stay 10 years in one city and raise his kids there. It's stability for all of us, and I like stability."

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