Derek Jeter in Yankees lineup at Cleveland
CLEVELAND – Sensing his 3,000th hit is within striking distance, Derek Jeter talked his way back into the Yankees lineup on Wednesday, and he may remain there until the milestone is in the books.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had been strongly considering resting Jeter for the series finale against the Indians. But after a conversation, Girardi penciled Jeter’s name back into the leadoff spot, playing shortstop.
“His [concern] was how much I’ve been playing, just coming back,” Jeter said. “I told him I was fine and that was pretty much the extent of it.”
Girardi said that he spoke to Jeter after Tuesday’s 9-2 victory at Progressive Field, and later exchanged text messages at the team hotel with the captain, carrying through on his promise to sleep on the decision. Ultimately, Girardi found himself changing his mind.
“What I realized is, none of us know what it’s like to be close to 3,000 hits,” Girardi said. “We don’t know what’s going through his mind. I just started thinking, you know, maybe it’s a lot worse if you’re sitting around thinking about it.”
Jeter went 2-for-6 in Tuesday’s victory, notching a single and a two-run double, and needs four hits to become the 28th player in Major League history to reach the 3,000 plateau.
He is 5-for-12 in his career against Indians starter Justin Masterson, but even his teammates believed Jeter was a lock to get Wednesday off.
Alex Rodriguez wandered by the lineup card posted in the visiting clubhouse and did a double-take, asking a bystander, “He talked his way in?”
“If I had 500 hits, I’d still be wanting to play,” Jeter said. “This isn’t the first time I’ve done it. I used to do the same thing with Mr. T (Joe Torre) when he tried to take me out. I like to play.”
Girardi said he spoke with head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, who assured the manager that Jeter’s right calf has held up well through the two games against Cleveland following two Minor League rehabilitation games.
Additionally, Girardi said that he has sensed the pursuit of 3,000 hits has been weighing on Jeter, and said he could decide to play Jeter in each of the club’s upcoming four games against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.
“We want to get over with,” Girardi said. “I know he wants to get through it so he can just be Derek again. You don’t want it to carry over to the All-Star break and you don’t want it to go on the road trip.”