Mariners’ George Kirby fulfilling dream in ‘surreal’ homecoming

George Kirby’s family and friends trekked across the country last weekend to see his MLB debut. 

For his second big league start, they will only have to make the short drive from Rye. 

Kirby will take the mound on Saturday night at Citi Field for the Mariners, pitching against the Mets about 30 minutes from where he grew up in Westchester County. 

“It’s awesome,” Kirby said before the Mets’ 2-1 loss to the Mariners. “Couldn’t ask for a better lineup, throwing in Seattle and then coming back home for my second start. It’s pretty surreal.” 

The 24-year-old right-hander was impressive in his first start on Sunday against the Rays, tossing six shutout innings with seven strikeouts. About 15-20 family members and friends trekked to Seattle for his debut, but he expects at least 50 of them to be at Citi Field on Saturday. 

George Kirby grew up in Westchester County.

“Last week, my friends made that promise to come and they did,” Kirby said. “It’s just awesome that they’re keeping up with me. A lot of my buddies, I went through it with them in high school baseball and even before that, so it’s just cool to see them around.” 

Kirby, who grew up a Yankees fan, graduated from Rye High School in 2016. He was an MLB draft prospect that June, but he “pretty much told everyone I was going to school” at Elon University. The Mets eventually picked him in the 32nd round that year, though he never really considered signing. 

After Kirby’s strong career at Elon, though, the Mariners drafted him 20th overall in 2019, with a fast track to the big leagues. 

“Just playing against a New York team is something I’ve always dreamt about, so pretty cool,” Kirby said. 

Kumar Rocker, the Vanderbilt right-hander whom the Mets drafted 10th overall last year, but did not sign because of concerns with his elbow, signed Friday with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the independent Frontier League. 

Kumar Rocker
Kumar Rocker

Rocker is expected to begin pitching for the ValleyCats in about a month, The Post’s Joel Sherman reported, and will do so until the draft in July. 

Jeff McNeil worked a 14-pitch at-bat in the second inning before hitting an infield single. … Brandon Nimmo (2-for-3) extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games. 

This weekend marked the Mariners’ first trip to Citi Field since it opened in 2009. Before Friday, they were the only team that had yet to play at Citi Field. The teams were originally set to play in Queens in 2020 before the schedule was shortened to 60 games and confined to regional opponents because of the pandemic.