Derek Jeter sat on the couch in the Yankees clubhouse this afternoon watching the Michigan-Notre Dame football game. At halftime, he finally stood up. He seemed to be moving better than last night, his banged up knee not causing the same limp.
“It’s fine, I am fine,” he said.
But he’s not playing. Not tonight, anyway. Joe Girardi said the decision had more to do with last night’s game being so long, and not so much to do with Jeter’s numbers being so low or his knee being hurt.
“I don’t think there’s any question that he’s struggling,” Girardi said. “You always have that decision, does he need a day off to get back on track or does he need to keep playing to get back on track, and you never really know the answer. Today’s day off is more that we played five hours and 15 minutes last night.”
Said Jeter: “You don’t go in a different direction by not playing. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but you don’t get hits if you’re not in the game.”
Of the Yankees regulars, it’s pretty easy to make the case that Jeter has been the ninth-best hitter this season (Curtis Granderson has a lower average, but he’s also hit for much most power). Despite those numbers, Girardi has not moved Jeter out of the top two spots in the lineup, and it sounds like he has no plans of ever doing so.
“My confidence in Derek hasn’t wavered,” Girardi said. “… There’s a ton of faith. I surely wouldn’t bet against him that he’s not going to finish up strong and be the Derek Jeter that we know he can be.”
Here’s Girardi speaking pregame. The bulk of it is about Jeter.
• Asked if Jeter would have today off if he’s gone 4-for-7 instead of 1-for-7 last night, Girardi said: “Him or Alex probably would have gotten one today.” Girardi said it’s possible Alex Rodriguez will get a day off tomorrow. Girardi had already announced that he planned to give A-Rod one day during these six games in a row against Texas and Tampa Bay.
• Girardi said he still hadn’t checked with Mariano Rivera, but otherwise every reliever is available tonight. Girardi will talk to his closer first, but it sounds like it’s possible Rivera will be available again tonight.
• The plan for Jorge Posada has not changed. He’s available to pinch hit tonight, and he’ll probably catch tomorrow.
• Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has been eliminated from the playoffs, which means more September call-ups are on their way. I’ve heard two names, but I’m working to confirm. Girardi said only that there would be additional call-ups, but he didn’t want to announce them until he was certain the players themselves had been told.
• Andy Pettitte knows way more than he ever expected about the Eastern League playoffs. “My team down there apparently wrapped up their series,” he said, in reference to Trenton clinching the first round last night. Pettitte knew that Altoona had a two-games-to-one lead in the other Eastern League series, and he’s started plotting where he’ll need to be on Tuesday. “I’ve been looking at maps trying to figure out how far everything is from New York,” he said.
• Pettitte said he could pitch in the big leagues if he had to, but seemed perfectly fine with the Yankees decision to get him a little more stretched out. “I felt like I was going pretty good in the first inning (Thursday),” he said. “But I guess I just loosened up a little bit more because I could tell the last couple of innings that my stride – where the dirt is — I could tell that I was getting a little bit farther out. My command I thought was pretty good. My breaking stuff was fairly descent I thought. My changeup was a little inconsistent, but it’s always been inconsistent.”
• Maybe looking to get something going, A.J. Burnett has cut off all his hair.
UPDATE, 7:38 p.m.: Texas lineup
Elvis Andrus SS
Michael Young 3B
David Murphy LF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Nelson Cruz RF
Ian Kinsler 2B
Mitch Moreland 1B
Matt Treanor C
Julio Borbon CF
Associated Press photo of Jeter