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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – There’s going to be a lot of focus on South Florida in the baseball world over the next couple of days.
The New York Yankees are facing interesting lineup decisions as they head to Marlins Park for the first time in regular-season play.
Alex Rodriguez figures to be on the bench for New York, which will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound to face the Miami Marlins on Monday night.
New York and Miami (27-37) meet for the next four days, with the first two games in Marlins Park and next two at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees (34-28) last visited Miami in 2009, though they opened Marlins Park with two exhibition games before it officially opened in 2012.
Rodriguez returns to the city where he grew up, though manager Joe Girardi has said he does not want to use the 39-year-old on defense for the remainder of the season. The slugger, who is five hits shy of 3,000, has started once in his career in Miami.
Girardi also does not expect to start Carlos Beltran at Marlins Park because of the spacious dimensions there. The manager gave Garrett Jones a start Sunday in right field and may do the same Monday and Tuesday.
“Our ballpark being a shorter distance between home and right, it doesn’t play in as much,” Girardi told MLB’s official website. “But you get to some of these other parks and it plays in a little bit.”
Jones returns to Miami after he had a team-high 33 doubles and batted .246 in his lone season with the Marlins last year.
Brian McCann, who is 9 for 25 in his last six games and has 18 RBIs in his last 18, is expected back in the Yankees’ lineup after resting in Sunday’s 5-3 victory at Baltimore that ended a three-game slide.
He’ll be the batterymate for Tanaka (4-1, 2.48 ERA), who has allowed one run in seven innings in winning each of two starts since returning June 3 after being out for over a month with a strained right forearm. Tanaka improved to 4-1 with a 1.49 ERA in five career interleague starts in last Tuesday’s 6-1 home win over Washington.
The right-hander has never faced the Marlins, and he has yielded two runs in 20 1-3 innings with 23 strikeouts on the road this year.
The Yankees will see a familiar face in Ichiro Suzuki, who played for them over the last two-plus seasons before joining the Marlins as a free agent. Since Suzuki doesn’t start often, he may not face Japanese compatriot Tanaka for the first time.
Tanaka will get a break if Miami third baseman Martin Prado is out. Prado, who has missed only one game, is day to day after he sprained his right shoulder in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Colorado.
“Right now I’m in a lot of pain,” he said. “We’ll just wait until Monday to see how it feels.”
Tanaka will have to face Giancarlo Stanton, who leads the majors with 23 homers and 59 RBIs. The slugger has gone deep eight times in his last 12 games and is 13 for 25 over a seven-game hitting streak.
Marlins starter Tom Koehler (4-4, 4.00) was born in the Bronx and will face the Yankees for the first time. The right-hander has one of baseball’s best home ERAs at 1.57.
Miami’s Dee Gordon continues to vie for the batting title with a .354 average.
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