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Mariners’ George Kirby achieves dream in ‘surreal’ homecoming

Family and friends of George Kirby traveled the country this past weekend to see his MLB debut.

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

Kirby will take the mound Saturday night at Citi Field for the Mariners, playing 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. “I couldn’t have asked for a better roster, pitching in Seattle and then coming home for my second start. It’s quite surreal.

The 24-year-old right-hander was impressive in his first start Sunday against the Rays, pitching six shutout innings with seven strikeouts. About 15 to 20 of his family and friends traveled 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 promised to come and they did,” Kirby said. “It’s just great that they follow me. A lot of my buddies, I went through that with them in high school baseball and even before that, so it’s just cool to see them.

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

After Kirby’s solid career at Elon, however, 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 dreamed of, so kind of cool,” Kirby said.

Kumar Rocker, the Vanderbilt right-hander who the Mets drafted 10th overall last year but didn’t sign due to elbow issues, signed Friday with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the independent Frontier League.

Mariners’ George Kirby achieves dream in ‘surreal’ homecoming
Rocking Kumar

Rocker is expected to start 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 a field single. … Brandon Nimmo (2 for 3) extended his hitting streak to nine games, a career high.

This weekend marked the Mariners’ first trip to Citi Field since it opened in 2009. Prior to Friday, they were the only team that had yet to play at Citi Field. Teams were originally scheduled to play in Queens in 2020 before the schedule was shortened to 60 games and limited to regional opponents due to the pandemic.