The Yankees will visit Wrigley Field for a three-game series that begins Friday afternoon. For at least one weekend, that’s an exciting enough matchup to quiet those who despise interleague play.
But this visit has even more juice. The Yankees (17-9) are red-hot to start the season, the Cubs (16-12) are the defending World Series champions and three Yankees will be making emotional returns to Chicago.
Well, two, anyway.
Aroldis Chapman, whom the Yankees traded to the Cubs last July, will receive his World Series ring in a ceremony before Friday’s game. The Cubs, who won the title for the first time since 1908, would not have ended their curse without Chapman.
Adam Warren, who spent the first half of the season with the Cubs before being traded back to the Yankees in the Chapman deal last July, also will get his World Series ring.
Warren was not an integral part of the Cubs’ success (other than being a piece that allowed them to get Chapman). Warren posted a 5.91 ERA in 29 games with Chicago before resuming his usual steady pitching after returning to the Bronx.
Warren originally was traded by the Yankees to the Cubs in the deal that netted the Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro (ah, the circle of baseball life). The Cubs will honor Castro with a video tribute before Friday’s game.
“I’m pretty happy to go back and play there,’’ Castro said. “I can’t wait to see how they react the first time that I go there.’’
Castro was a three-time All-Star with the Cubs but fell out of favor with manager Joe Maddon in 2015 and ultimately was traded. When the Cubs celebrated, Castro could only watch.
“It didn’t happen when I’m there, but I feel happy for those guys,’’ Castro said. “I just wanted the Cubbies [to win] because I have a lot of good relationships with the teammates I had over there.’’
The Yankees also received super-prospect Gleyber Torres in the Chapman trade and then were able to re-sign the closer. So they’re pretty happy with the way things worked out.
Chapman called out Maddon in the offseason for using him for too many innings during the postseason but said on Wednesday that he and the manager patched it up when the champs went to the White House to visit with then-President Obama in January.
“I’ll just say hi,” Chapman said through a translator when asked what he will say to Maddon this weekend. “I have a good relationship with him overall. Looking forward to having a chat with him and talk about anything, talk about baseball or any other stuff.’’
The highlight for Chapman, though, will be getting that gaudy World Series ring. Among other features, the rings have 108 white diamonds surrounding the Cubs’ logo to signify the gap between championships for the franchise.
“I’m excited about it,’’ Chapman said. “It’s big. I think every player wants to get to the World Series and have a World Series ring. Means a lot to me . . . I hope I’m welcome. We’ll see. The fans in Chicago are good fans.’’
Notes & quotes: Gary Sanchez is expected to rejoin the Yankees at Wrigley after going 2-for-5 in his final rehab game for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. Sanchez, who has been out since straining his right biceps on April 8, went 5-for-13 in three rehab games . . . Backup catcher Austin Romine, who left Tuesday’s game with a cramp in his groin, should be available for the series. If Sanchez is activated and Romine is available, rookie Kyle Higashioka will be returned to Triple-A after going 0-for-18 in nine games in his first taste of big-league action.
This is only the Yankees’ sixth visit to Wrigley Field in franchise history, including the postseason: