Joe Girardi said he knew the answer before he asked the question.
“I talked to (Derek Jeter) when he got here today,” Girardi explained. “I said, ‘How do you feel?’ And he says, ‘Great,’ like he always does.”
Girardi agreed to put Jeter in the lineup at designated hitter, and said he’ll change that if Jeter feels any discomfort during batting practice. Of course, the bone bruise doesn’t seem to bother Jeter when he’s in the field, so addition DH days might not help the situation too much.
“Where you see it happen though is running the bases,” Girardi said. “You don’t really see it happen playing shortstop, so I don’t know. It just depends on the soreness. It’s probably a discussion that we’ll have to have in the next couple of days, see how he does. Maybe you throw another DH day on Sunday so he’s not on his feet as much Sunday and we got Monday off. We’ll just have to see.”
The Yankees had dealt with key injuries all season, but at this point, it’s really hard to imagine a lineup without Jeter in it. There really isn’t a backup option at the top of the order.
“We’d have to find a way, but we’ve all seen what he’s done this year,” Girardi said. “He’s been our leadoff guy all year. I started thinking about it, if he wasn’t able to play today, who was I going to lead off? There’s a lot of questions that go through your head when you think that, and I’m not so sure if he wasn’t able to play if I’d have that answer yet.”
• After a conversation between Girardi, Andy Pettitte, Larry Rothschild, Brian Cashman, Steve Donohue and Dr. Christopher Ahmad — actually, I assume it was Ahmad, Girardi just said “the doctor” — the Yankees decided it was time to put Pettitte back in the rotation. “We feel that he’s ready to go,” Girardi said. “Is he going to give you 90 pitches? No. Seventy is somewhat realistic? Yes. He gets an extra day’s rest here, and we just feel we could have done another simulated game on Sunday and started him Friday, but this way he possibly has four starts for us.”
• Four starts means having Pettitte pitch every fifth day the rest of the way.
• Pettitte: “I feel 100 percent. I’m being honest with them. You never know what’s going to happen in a big-league game, but I need to get out there. I need to get into a big-league game. I want to go to battle with these guys. … I think I probably would be a little concerned if I didn’t feel like my command was where it was, because you feel a little helpless out there when you’re not able to control the ball like you want to, but my command’s been there in the simulated games. Like I said before, the only thing that’s the unknown is the stamina, I feel like.”
• David Phelps will move into the bullpen, and Girardi said he’ll likely be available as a Pettitte backup on Tuesday. “I would use him in a lot of different ways on Tuesday,” Girardi said. “I could use him for a couple of innings, or one inning if Andy was able to go five.”
• Eduardo Nunez gets a chance to start and play the field today. “He went down and did the things that he had to in Triple-A,” Girardi said. “We’ve always liked the excitement that he’s provided on offense for us, but he went down and played a pretty good shortstop. He’s got an opportunity to do something and be a big part of this tonight.”
• Nunez said he looked at this as an opportunity to prove himself again. “Show I can help and play good,” he said.
• Without many right-handed alternatives — and a lot of lefties with terrible numbers against left-handers — Girardi acknowledged that Andruw Jones keeps getting playing time because he’s at least capable of getting hot and having a huge day. No matter who plays that spot, the Yankees would be rolling the dice a little bit. “It seems like the last couple days, he started swinging the bat a little bit better,” Girardi said. “We know what kind of tear he can go on. The last time we were here, it was a huge tear and he was a big part of the reason we had three wins. That’s what he’s capable of doing.”
• By the way, Girardi mentioned four players who he was considering in the leadoff spot if Jeter couldn’t play: Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez.
Associated Press photos