Brett Gardner jokingly says he's looking forward to playing against Alex Cora

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As the longest-tenured New York Yankee, Brett Gardner has been around long enough to have faced Alex Cora as a player on the Boston Red Sox. After being suspended for the entirety of the 2020 season because of his role in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, Cora is now back for a second stint as Red Sox manager. And Gardner says he's excited to see Cora and the Red Sox this weekend.

In a strange scheduling quirk, the Yankees will welcome the Red Sox to the Bronx this weekend for a three-game series, marking the first time that the two American League East rivals have seen each other this weekend. With that, Gardner was asked if there's a little extra juice now that Cora is back in the Red Sox dugout.

"Yeah, I mean, having him back in the dugout obviously makes me want to beat them more," Gardner said with a smile. "Listen, we don't like those guys, they don't like us. I don't want to get too far ahead of the Rays, because we have one more game until we get to the Red Sox this weekend. But we haven't seen much of them this year, so it will be interesting to have them come into town and obviously we look forward to those games, whether they are here in the Bronx or up at Fenway. There's a lot of energy and having fans back in the stands this year will be fun. It will be a good matchup and and we look forward to hopefully playing well against them."

Prior to becoming the Red Sox manager in 2018, Cora spent the 2017 season as the Astros bench coach. The Astros, of course, won the 2017 World Series, defeating the Yankees in a seven-game ALCS on their way. We've since learned about the sign-stealing scandal that took place during the 2017 season, something that Cora appears to have been at the forefront of. While he's pushed back against the idea that sign-stealing was limited to just he and Carlos Beltrán, Cora has accepted responsibility for being part of one of the biggest scandals in MLB history.

After mutually parting ways with the Red Sox before his suspension was issued, Cora was brought back as the manager in Boston this season. To the surprise of many, Boston finds themselves at 32-23, which puts them 1 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees (both are behind the Rays). There's always some extra energy when the Red Sox play the Yankees. But dating back to 2017, do those still employed by the Yankees have a little extra juice facing Cora?

"No, I was halfway joking," Gardner clarified. "I mean obviously he had a lot of success over in Houston and led the Red Sox to the World Series a couple years ago. And they're playing well again this year. So, like I said, it will be a good battle and it will be fun."

One thing is for sure: fans at Yankee Stadium will absolutely have an extra level of energy seeing Cora this weekend. Whether Gardner will and was just trying to protect himself from creating a headline, well, you can judge:

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