As soon as today’s lineup was posted, everyone had the same initial thought: There must be something wrong with Derek Jeter.
For the second consecutive day, the Captain will out of the lineup, and it’s not because he’s suddenly been benched in his 20th season. Jeter’s right quad tightened up during Friday night’s game, and while it’s considered a minor issue, Joe Girardi is being his usual cautious self.
“Friday, early in the game, his quad got a little tight, but played the whole game,” Girardi said. “Saturday was a scheduled day off, no matter what. I had it scheduled for the whole week. I knew that he was going to be off. I’d say about the fifth, sixth, seventh inning (on Saturday), I started thinking it probably makes sense to give him one more day because it buys him two more days (with Monday being an off day).”
Jeter didn’t speak to the media today, but it’s safe to say that he wasn’t overly pleased with the decision. No tests are scheduled and Girardi sounded very optimistic about having him back on Tuesday for the series opener with the Cubs, but as is always the case when it comes to Jeter, any news is big news.
“He fights me about every time that we’re going to give him a day off, but he’s been that way since day one,” Girardi said. “I remember he used to fight Joe (Torre) and say, ‘How am I going to break Cal (Ripken’s) record if you keep doing this to me?’ It’s never a real comfortable situation when you tell him that you’re going to give him a day, but I think he understands what I’m trying to do. It’s just his heart. He wants to be out there.”
· According to Girardi, he was planning to play Jeter today, but changed his mind during last night’s game. He’s available tonight, if needed, but I doubt that we’ll see him. “Is he available to me tonight? In an emergency I would use him,” he said. “Are there any tests scheduled? No. He went through some tightness in spring training that he got through. He had it in his calf at one point, and he got through it. I figured, you know what? It probably makes more sense to give him today. I could have put him in there. Originally, my plan was to put him in there today, but I changed my mind during the game yesterday.”
· Girardi said that he noticed Jeter favoring the quad during Friday’s game, so it wasn’t like Jeter asked for the time off. I couldn’t see him asking out of the lineup very often. “We saw him stretching it a little bit on Friday,” Girardi said. “That’s what (tipped us off). When something happens, you’re going to see him move around a little bit different when you watch how they always run. And I didn’t see him move around a whole lot different on Friday, but it’s a concern of mine when someone tells me that something is tight.”
· Prior to this setback, Jeter had played seven days in a row. I think it’s safe to say that we won’t see that happen many more times this season. “He’s 39 years old, and I think you have to be smart about it and understand that there are times you’re going to have to give him a day off,” Girardi said. “I ran him out there seven days in a row, and I don’t know, it’s something that I’ll think about the next time.”
· What has Girardi thought of how Jeter’s looked so far when he has been able to play? “I’ve been pleased with the way that he’s swung the bat. We talked about the last week of spring training that he was feeling better and better, and I think we’ve seen that. It has improved every week. On the field, I think he’s been really good.”
· How about in the field? “Obviously, as we all get older, we’re not quite what we used to be, necessarily. I moved better at 25 than I can tell you I did at 35, but as far as his ankle, I don’t think his ankle has had a whole lot of affect. I think his ankle has been healthy and has not hindered him at all.”
· Ready for some non-Jeter stuff? You may not remember at this point, but the Yankees hit some homers yesterday. Four of the five came from new players who were swinging left-handed and utilized the short porch in right. These guys were brought in, in part, because there was a feeling that their swings would translate well to Yankee Stadium. “I think that’s a big part of it, the way our field plays,” Girardi said. “You’re going to build your team around your home ballpark because you’re going to play 81 of your games there, and that’s what we tried to do. When you look at the hitters that we have, this ballpark plays favorable to them. It worked out really well yesterday. … It’s something that we address every winter, the type of players that we want, and we try to go out and get them.”
· We have our first minor controversy from the new MLB replay system. Replays appeared to show Dean Anna taking his foot off of the base when he was called safe on his eighth inning double on Saturday, but the call was not overturned. Apparently, the conclusive angle was not available immediately to the replay official, which seems strange. The general understanding is that the replay officials will have access to every angle that we can see on TV. “I’m not so sure how that happens,” Girardi said. “I guess unless I was over there, I probably wouldn’t be really sure of how it happens, but obviously, as a club, you might see some angles and see something that’s clear, and if they don’t see it, you wonder if the feeds are different. It’s a little confusing to me.”
· Mark Teixeira said yesterday that he hopes to be in the lineup next Sunday, which is the first day that he’s eligible to come off of the DL. Girardi is hoping for the same thing, but says that they haven’t discussed any roster moves yet. “He’s hitting on the field today, which is, to me, a really good sign,” he said. “He did some light jogging on the field yesterday, which is really good. I don’t imagine it will be a whole lot longer, as long as he continues to progress running.”
· It sounds like they’re hoping for a quick return for David Robertson also. “He’s doing great,” Girardi said. “I don’t think he played catch yesterday, so I’d guess he might be playing catch again today and maybe a side in a little bit.”
· One of the best early stories of the season for the Yankees has been the emergence of Yangervis Solarte. He’s played mostly third base, but will start at second today. Girardi was asked what he sees as Solarte’s best position. Possible Jeter replacement next year? “It’s probably unfair for me to answer that, because I have not seen him play a lot everywhere,” Girardi said. “He’s played all over the place. He’s played a lot of second, he’s played third in his career, so it’s hard for me to say. I think he’s done a pretty good job. Obviously, our scouts have seen more and he’s probably played a little more second. He’s probably a little more comfortable there, but he’s done a pretty good job at third base.”
· Since the press conference was dominated by Jeter, Girardi wasn’t asked at all about tonight’s starter Ivan Nova, but this is a fairly important outing for him. The staff has been very solid for the most part, but Nova has probably been the worst of the bunch. He looked awesome at times in spring training and seemed to finally put it all together, so it would be nice to see some positive signs tonight.
· There must be something going on with the captains. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was a late scratch, and according to manager John Farrell, he’s dealing with some soreness in his left wrist. Those wrists can be tricky (cue Teixeira reference).
Associated Press photos