The Yankees decided Derek Jeter was ready. He’d been through weeks of simulated situations in Tampa, and four minor league games in Scranton. Late Wednesday night, the Yankees decided Jeter might as well DH in the big leagues rather than DH another game in Triple-A. There’s a chance that decision led to the strained quad that is going to keep Jeter out until at least the weekend after the All-Star break.
“If it was I needed him to play the field, I wouldn’t have done it,” Brian Cashman said. “(Wouldn’t have done) day game after a night game, that type of stuff. But it was a DH situation. It’s not something that entered my mind in any way, that he could actually blow a tire running the bases or stretching things out or what have you. He could do it down there as well as he could do it up here. There’s so much more involved when you’re playing both sides of the ball. It’s more controlled on the DH side of it. Again, you saw the first two at-bats that he had. Certainly a lot of excess energy went in to try to beat those balls out. Stuff happens, and it did.”
Quite often it seems the Yankees are seen as overly cautious with injuries, sitting players who badly want to play and believe they can play. Mark Teixeira thought he could be back a month earlier than the Yankees brought him back, but when Teixeira ultimately needed surgery, there was a perception that the Yankees rushed him.
Did they rush Jeter? It certainly seems logical to think the quad injury is directly related to the ankle recovery, but I have no idea how much longer Jeter would have needed to a point when there was no risk of tweaking something while trying to beat out a ground ball. If he was healthy enough to play in Triple-A games, then it seems he would be healthy enough to play in Major League games. Maybe not quite adjusted to the game speed and the game routine, but probably physically capable. Certainly it’s hard to imagine that one more day of DH work in the minors would have wiped out the possibility of running awkwardly and hurting something else.
Joe Girardi said the plan was to have Jeter DH yesterday, play shortstop today, take Saturday off, then play again on Sunday. They were going to ease him in, but that plan lasted all of four at-bats.
“He would have been fine if it was a hard ground out to short, a hard ground out to second base, a pop fly to first base,” Cashman said. “Then this is not an issue. But the way the game unraveled in his first two at-bats, they were go-get-’em situations and Derek is going to do everything he can to succeed. A piece of his body said, not yet. Is that because of his age or more so because of what he’s coming back from? … I guess you’ve got to be careful even when it’s just a DH situation. If there was a lesson to be learned on that, moving him up one day, it appeared to be a harmless circumstance at the time, but you go through the process for a reason and you set it up for a reason and you adjust when you can. Unfortunately, we had a bad result from yesterday.”
• Brett Gardner is back in the lineup and said, “oh yeah” when asked if his bruised shin is feeling better. Travis Hafner is not in the lineup, but Girardi made it clear that Hafner is likely available as a pinch hitter. “He seems to be OK,” Girardi said. “I think I could use him tonight.”
• Curtis Granderson is ready to start taking dry swings, but he’s still a long way from a rehab assignment. “He’s not even taking batting practice yet,” Cashman said. “He wasn’t hitting off the tee yet. He was doing swings in the pool, then I think yesterday was potentially the first day for him doing stuff open air.”
• Looks like the Yankees will stick with a short bench through the All-Star break. “As long as a couple of guys don’t have something happen today, we’ll be fine,” Girardi said.
• No concerns about Jeter’s ankle after yesterday’s game. “Unless he failed to tell me anything worse, but I think the ankle is fine,” Cashman said.
• Jeter did not meet with the media today. How are his spirits following this setback? “Feisty,” Girardi said. “He wants to play tonight. Pretty normal Derek Jeter stuff. His frame of mind is good. He wants to give it a shot after these seven days and see where he’s at, which is to me, normal Derek Jeter.”
• Cashman was asked whether there’s a massive risk in counting on guys like Jeter, Rodriguez and Granderson to provide a second-half boost. “I hope not,” Cashman said. “I hope not because they’re going to get, when they’re healthy, they’re getting plugged in. We’ll be willing to sink or swim with them. But don’t misunderstand that, that we’re not going to try to reinforce other aspects when we can and if we can, but we really do look forward to getting those guys back when they’re healthy.”
Associated Press photos