Derek Jeter ran onto the field, shook a few hands around the mound, watched a quick video montage, and then jogged right back in front of the Yankees dugout to finish his pregame warm up. It was the first of many pregame ceremonies honoring Jeter this year, and he did what he could to keep his routine intact.
“This is probably putting a little bit of a kink in his schedule,” Andy Pettitte said. “But it’s something that he’s got to do. He’s been too great of a player and an ambassador for this game not to let the fans in every city that the go to honor him.”
Honoring Mariano Rivera last season didn’t require much of a routine change because Rivera usually didn’t even make his way to the bullpen until the middle innings. His pregame routine was basically just sitting out and killing time. That’s why he was able to meet with fans and behind-the-scenes workers in every city. He had plenty of time.
Jeter is in his 20th major-league season, and he has a pregame routine that’s pretty refined. Stretching. Jogging. Playing catch in foul territory.
“The one thing as a player, when you’re used to doing something on a regular basis, you don’t like when your routine gets upset,” Joe Girardi said. “… It’s not a big deal, but he might be running his last few sprints at that time, you know? It’s just, you get used to going out at the same time every day, and you’ve got to adjust it a little bit.”
Jeter said the ceremony didn’t keep him from finishing his pregame routine — “It did not interfere with anything,” he said — and he was more caught off guard by the Astros bench giving him a standing ovation before his first at-bat of the game.
“I never even thought about that happening,” Jeter said. “I didn’t know what was happening at first, so no, I didn’t plan anything like that. … It’s appreciated, but it’s not something that I go out expecting. Today was nice. It was nice of them to do. It was not something I would expect.”
There are going to be more days like yesterday, and Girardi has said he’ll try to make sure Jeter takes some time to enjoy those moments. It’s not really in Jeter’s nature to want the spotlight in that this way, but he seemed to make it work yesterday.
“I don’t think he’s crazy about it, but I think he knows he’s got to go through that,” Pettitte said. “It’s good that he is. I know that Derek is crazy, crazy, crazy about his routine and his pregame routine stuff, but it’s real quick. I think that he’ll probably get used to doing that as he continues to travel from city to city, and I think each time it will probably get a little bit easier. He’ll realize what he’s got to do, but he’s a great professional. He’ll be ready to play the game.”
Two random but kind of funny notes about that Pettitte video up above.
1. The interview happened right after the pregame ceremony, and after Pettitte talked for about a minute and a half, an Astros PR person came in the room and said Andy had to leave right away. The PR staff had forgotten that Pettitte was also supposed to throw out the first pitch. Pettitte just started laughing.
2. As you’ll see in the video, Pettitte began answering his first question by saying: “You have a chance to honor Rocket, err, to honor Derek…” Apparently seeing Roger Clemens again stuck with him a little bit.
Associated Press photo