Posted on: July 9, 2011 2:10 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2011 5:35 pm

Jeter's 3,000th is a home run

NEW YORK -- They planned this, didn't they?

They had to, right? It was all too perfect.

It was all too . . . too perfectly Derek Jeter.

The beautiful afternoon, Yankee Stadium buzzing, and Jeter's 3,000th career hit, a third-inning home run off Rays left-hander David Price.

Jeter began the day Saturday with 2,998 hits, supposedly feeling pressure with two games left to reach the milestone at home.

And all he really needed was two at-bats. Two strikingly similar eight-pitch at-bats.

He bounced a single through the left side in the first inning, to get to 2,999. Then he homered in the third inning, to become the 28th player -- and first Yankee -- to reach 3,000.

And the first to reach 3,001, and 3,002, and 3,003.

Jeter added a double and two more singles, and it was his eighth-inning single that brought home the deciding run in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Rays. It was the third five-hit game of his career, and the first five-hit game by anyone at the new Yankee Stadium.

Jeter is the fourth youngest player to reach 3,000 hits, behind only Ty Cobb, who was 34, and Hank Aaron and Robin Yount, who were both 36. Jeter turned 37 on June 26, which means he is nine days younger than Pete Rose was when he reached 3,000 hits. Rose went on to play eight more years, becoming baseball's all-time hit leader.

Jeter is the second player to hit a home run for his 3,000th hit. The first was Wade Boggs, who got it while playing for the Rays in 1999.

And he's the second player to get his 3,000th hit as a shortstop. The first was Honus Wagner, who did it in 1914.

He's the 14th player to reach 3,000 hits while playing for just one team.

It's a huge milestone, the biggest individual milestone Jeter will ever reach. And while he will be remembered more for the championships he won, the day he got his 3,000th hit will become part of his legacy.

We'll remember the fans' anticipation, the way they cheered as Jeter came to the plate, the way they screamed on every pitch, and gasped on routine foul balls. We'll remember the way they roared for the first-inning single, and how they did it again -- louder this time -- as the 3,000th hit flew towards the left-field seats.

We'll remember Jeter circling the bases, and Jorge Posada meeting him at home plate with a huge hug. And then Jeter, hugging each Yankee player and coach, one by one, as the Rays stood and applauded him.

It was a special moment, a perfect moment.

A Derek Jeter moment.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 9, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: July 9, 2011 5:34 pm

A-Rod has tear in knee, may have surgery

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez has a slight tear in the meniscus of his right knee, and may have surgery that could keep him out of action for a month.

An MRI exam Friday revealed the tear, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Saturday morning that Rodriguez would likely decide later in the day whether to have surgery now or to play through the injury and have surgery after the season. Rodriguez told reporters after the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Rays that he'll get a second opinion before deciding.

Rodriguez has gone a career-high 85 at-bats since hitting a home run, a stretch that dates back to before he first hurt his knee in June 19 game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"I just don't think he has the drive in his back side to be the power hitter he can be," Girardi said.

Girardi said the ultimate decision on whether or not to have surgery now would be up to Rodriguez, but he also suggested that having surgery now might be best.

"Players have [played through similar injuries], but I'm not sure how productive they can be," Girardi said. "It's unpredictable."

Rodriguez has hit .321 in the 14 games since hurting his knee, but 14 of his 18 hits were singles (the other four were doubles).

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones has been playing with a meniscus tear for nearly two months, but Jones told reporters Friday night in Philadelphia that he may now opt for surgery.

"It's not getting any better," Jones said, according to MLB.com. "The [cortisone] shot didn't do anything for me."

Rodriguez announced Friday that he would skip the All-Star Game. If Jones opts for the surgery, he would miss the All-Star Game, too.

Posted on: July 8, 2011 7:56 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 8:29 pm

Rain, Rays cut Jeter's chances for a quick 3,000

NEW YORK -- The simple facts are these:

Derek Jeter didn't get any hits Friday night because the Yankees and Rays didn't play.

Jeter now has two home games remaining, and not three, to get his 3,000th hit at home.

And any fan who paid a scalper a huge price for a Friday night ticket, hoping to see the 3,000th hit, now has either a ticket for a makeup game on Sept. 22 or a rain check to exchange for another game.

Sounds simple enough . . . except it wasn't.

It took hours for the Yankees and Rays to figure all that out. The Yankees said they wanted to play a split doubleheader Saturday, and the Rays said they didn't. The players' union got involved, because the basic agreement allows players to vote on whether to play split doubleheaders, in some cases.

"Right now, a lot of people are talking," Rays manager Joe Maddon said at one point, before ducking back into his office. "It's kind of a convoluted picture."

For purely baseball reasons, both teams had reasons to put off the makeup game. The Yankees are beat up (two regulars were going to be out of the lineup Friday), and so are the Rays (Johnny Damon wouldn't have played Friday, either).

"A doubleheader just beats everybody up -- especially in this stadium," Rays third baseman and player rep Evan Longoria said.

But there was 3,000. And there was money.

The Yankees want Jeter to get 3,000 at home. They want their fans to believe that they were fighting for Jeter to have every chance to do it at home.

But they also weren't willing to play a traditional doubleheader -- which they could have done without the Rays' agreement -- because they weren't willing to give up a huge gate.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said money also figured into their reasoning for wanting a split doubleheader Saturday. Tickets are easier to sell in July than in September, he pointed out.

The Rays didn't like that idea, and the Rays got their way.

"There's even more pressure on [Jeter] now," Yankees player rep Curtis Granderson said.

But he's still just two hits away from 3,000. And he still has two days -- and two home games -- to get it at Yankee Stadium.

"It's not like he's never going to get a hit again," Longoria said.

No, but he didn't get one Friday.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: July 9, 2011 12:15 pm

3 to Watch: The Trout (and Jeter) edition

The day the Yankees first brought Derek Jeter to the big leagues, the New York Times handled the news with three lines attached to the bottom of the game story.

"It is Derek Jeter to the rescue, or so the Yankees hope," Tom Friend wrote that day. "With nearly the entire infield in the infirmary, the Yankees need someone with energetic legs, and their best candidate was Jeter, who was batting .354 at Class AAA Columbus."

Jeter was 20 years old. Baseball America ranked him as the fourth best prospect in baseball (behind Alex Rodriguez, Ruben Rivera and Chipper Jones), but there were no daily internet chats about what day the Yankees would call him up.

There were no daily internet chats about anything in May 1995. But there were no daily water cooler debates about top prospects back then, either.

The world has changed in the course of Jeter's 19-year career, to the point where on the same day that Jeter will be going for 3,000 hits, a significant portion of the baseball world will still be buzzing about the Angels' decision to call up 19-year-old Mike Trout.

Like Jeter, Trout will make his big-league debut against the Mariners, tonight in Anaheim. Like Jeter, whose arrival was speeded by injuries to Tony Fernandez, Dave Silvestri and Pat Kelly, Trout is coming to the big leagues now because someone got hurt (in this case, Peter Bourjos).

Who knows if this is the start of another 3,000-hit career?

What we do know is that Trout was the second biggest name in the minor leagues (there's some debate over whether he or Washington's Bryce Harper is the best prospect, but Harper is definitely better known). And we know that if you want to get 3,000 hits, it helps to get the first one when you're young.

Jeter was 20, as was George Brett. Pete Rose and Paul Molitor were 21. Tony Gwynn and Craig Biggio were 22.

Now Trout arrives at 19, as the youngest player in the major leagues. He was one year old when Jeter signed with the Yankees. He was three when Jeter debuted in the big leagues, and now he's given Jeter a 2,998-hit head start.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Jeter batted ninth in his debut at the Kingdome, going 0-for-5 against Mariner pitchers Rafael Carmona, Jeff Nelson and Bobby Ayala, in a game Rich Amaral won for the M's with a 12th-inning walkoff home run off Scott Bankhead. Trout will debut in Mariners at Angels, Friday night (10:05 ET) and Angel Stadium, with 22-year-old Blake Beavan starting for Seattle. Beavan is just up from the minor leagues himself; he allowed just three hits in seven innings to beat the Padres last Sunday in his debut.

2. It's hard to know exactly how big this weekend's "National League East showdown" in Philadelphia really is. Yes, the Phillies' NL East lead over the second-place Braves is down to just 2 1/2 games, heading into the weekend. But with the Braves holding a five-game lead in the wild-card race, the Phils are actually up a comfortable 7 1/2 games on a playoff spot. It could be that the Phils and Braves this September will be like the Yankees and Rays last September, where they'll only be playing for playoff seeding. What we do know is that there's a great pitching matchup, in Braves at Phillies, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Citizens Bank Park. Tommy Hanson, who many feel should be on the All-Star team, faces Cliff Lee, who is on the All-Star team.

3. Jeter enters the weekend needing just two hits for 3,000, so the first game to watch is probably Yankees-Rays on Friday night. And if he doesn't get two hits Friday, the second game to watch is Yankees-Rays on Saturday. But let's say he just gets one hit in those two games combined, so that we can focus on Rays at Yankees, Sunday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium. And even if the Jeter celebration comes Friday or Saturday, Sunday's game is worth watching, with All-Star James Shields facing could-have-been All-Star CC Sabathia.

Posted on: July 7, 2011 11:07 pm

Consistently, Jeter moves a step closer to 3,000

NEW YORK -- In the afternoon, we all tried to put 3,000 hits in perspective.

We talked about consistency, about longevity, about all that it takes to get there.

And then we wanted it to happen all at once.

Derek Jeter doubled on the first pitch he saw Thursday night, for his 2,998th hit, and we all thought he was going to make this night special. We did. He did.

"That's what I thought," Jeter said, in a rare admission that he does sometimes allow himself to look ahead.

And then it didn't happen, through four more at-bats, which means . . . what? Nothing, really.

It means that Jeter now needs two hits in three games to get to 3,000 while the Yankees are at home. It means that fans with tickets for Friday are feeling a little luckier, and those with tickets for Saturday are starting to think they may be the ones.

These milestone chases are always a little strange, because it's not like there's a real deadline. It's not like he's going to get it or he isn't.

And yet we still want to see the big hit, the big number.

According to seatgeek.com, the average secondary-market ticket prices for this weekend are more than $200, about what tickets were last year when Alex Rodriguez got to 600 home runs.

Each time Jeter came to the plate Thursday night, many fans stood. More fans cheered.

Jeter admitted he heard them. He admitted that teammates had said, "Get three hits today," and that after the Yankees' 5-1 loss, they told him, "Get two tomorrow."

He got two on Tuesday. He got one on Wednesday, and one more on Thursday. He doubled in all three games, his first three-game double streak since 2009.

He's approaching 3,000, consistently, and perhaps that's appropriate.

That is, after all, how he got this far in the first place.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 7, 2011 8:08 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 10:45 pm

Groch: 3,000 was a given (19 years ago)

NEW YORK -- Years later, the line is so famous that scouts around baseball repeat it.

It's from 1992, the year Derek Jeter was drafted. Jeter had signed a letter of intent to go to the University of Michigan, and someone told Yankees scout Dick Groch, "He's going to Michigan."

"Derek Jeter isn't going to Michigan," Groch replied. "He's going to Cooperstown."

First, though, he's going to get his 3,000th hit. And Groch, now a special assistant with the Brewers, is at Yankee Stadium this weekend to see it.

But you might say he saw it 19 years ago, watching Jeter as a 17-year-old in Kalamazoo, Mich. You might say he expected this, when he convinced the Yankees to draft Jeter with the sixth pick overall, then helped convince Jeter to sign.

"What's the big deal [with 3,000 hits]?" Groch said. "You didn't expect this from Derek Jeter?"

It is a big deal, though, and that's why Yankees general manager Brian Cashman personally invited Groch to come to New York to see it. It's why Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Groch to go, even though the Brewers were in the middle of meetings to plan their strategy for the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.

"This only happens once," Groch said.

Jeter said after the game that he was happy to see Groch.

"He was the first symbol of the Yankee organization I met," Jeter said.

When they talked briefly before Thursday's game, Groch told Jeter he wouldn't mind spending the weekend in New York, so "take your time."

Jeter's response? He told Groch he planned to get three hits Thursday, to get to 3,000.

He got one, on the very first pitch he saw. Then he ended the night still with 2,998.

Groch signed many players who went on to play in the big leagues, but only one that he ticketed for the Hall of Fame before his first professional game.

Only one Derek Jeter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 6, 2011 11:06 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 11:46 pm

For Jeter and the Yankees, this is just fine

CLEVELAND -- For all the theories and all the questions, this is working out just fine for Derek Jeter and the Yankees.

Three hits away from 3,000. Four home games in which to get them.

At this point, it's no more complicated than that.

There's no more need to discuss whether he should or shouldn't play. There's no real need to spend this weekend talking about his future.

To do something special -- to become the first Yankee ever with 3,000 hits, and just the second player in baseball history to get there while still playing shortstop -- Jeter no longer needs to do anything special.

He just needs three hits in four games, all against the Rays, after he just got three hits in three games against the Indians. He needs three hits in something like 16 at-bats, which is a .188 batting average.

Even Jeter's biggest critics would admit he can do that.

If he doesn't, it's not like it's a disaster. Jeter would simply take the chase for 3,000 to Toronto after the All-Star break. Not ideal, but not a disaster.

"Let's just hope he gets all three [Thursday]," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who made the right move by playing Jeter Wednesday night against the Indians, and was rewarded with a 1-for-3 night. Jeter doubled in the eighth inning, the only extra-base hit (and one of just three hits total) that the Yankees had off Justin Masterson in a 5-3 loss.

Jeter talked his way into Wednesday's lineup, and by the time he was done talking, Girardi had backed off the idea of resting his 37-year-old shortstop and basically committed to play him in every game -- at least until he gets to 3,000.

"Pursuing 3,000 hits, maybe he really doesn't want a day off to think about it," Girardi said.

Jeter, of course, never wants a day off. He didn't want to go on the disabled list, even with a calf injury that would eventually cost him three weeks. He didn't want a day off Wednesday.

"I want to play," he said, repeating a line he has used many more than 3,000 times.

He does seem to like the idea of getting his 3,000th hit at Yankee Stadium, which isn't exactly shocking.

"I would anticipate [the crowd] being pretty animated," he said Wednesday night.

Thursday, Jeter will face Jeff Niemann, a pitcher he has had success against (five hits in nine at-bats) in his career. Then it's Jeremy Hellickson (Jeter is 1-for-2 against him), David Price (6-for-25) and James Shields (17-for-54).

And Jeter needs three hits. It's not like he needs three hits in each game.

Three hits, a celebration, and then we'll all move on to something else -- as will Jeter.

"He wants to go on being Derek Jeter, not Derek Jeter pursuing 3,000," Girardi said.

Three more hits, and he can do that. Three hits in four games.

It's no more complicated than that.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 6, 2011 8:39 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 8:53 pm

Like Jeter, Indians' Cabrera just wants to play

CLEVELAND -- While Derek Jeter was lobbying Joe Girardi, Asdrubal Cabrera was lobbying Manny Acta.

Jeter was texting, telling Girardi he wanted to play Wednesday. Cabrera was texting, telling Acta he wanted to play Wednesday.

It turns out the American League's two All-Star shortstops are more alike than you would think.

One guy is nearing the end of a great career, about to reach 3,000 hits. The other guy is still early in a very promising career -- and just passed 500 hits at age 25.

But even at 37, Jeter strongly resists any attempt Girardi makes to give him a day off. And even at 25, Cabrera already does the same.

Jeter didn't want a day off, even though he's just off the disabled list, out three weeks with a calf strain. Cabrera didn't want a day off, even though he sprained his ankle a night earlier.

Jeter has averaged 152 games a year in his 15 full seasons in the big leagues, and he only played fewer than 148 games once -- when he dislocated his shoulder in 2003.

Cabrera told Acta this spring that he wanted to play 162 games this year, and sure enough, he hasn't missed one yet.

"He never wants out of the lineup -- never," Acta said.

Indians people say that Cabrera is starting to show some signs of fatigue. Acta said he plans to give Cabrera a day off during this weekend's series against the Blue Jays.

But just as Girardi does with Jeter, Acta will "negotiate" that day off with his shortstop, and eventually insist that Cabrera rest.

Acta had to do just that Tuesday night, when Cabrera suffered a mild ankle sprain while making a play on defense. Cabrera stayed in the game, but an inning later, with the Yankees far ahead, Acta made the right move and pulled him.

"He didn't want to come out," Acta said. "For us as managers, you want to have 25 like that."

Cabrera earned his spot on the All-Star team with the way he has hit (.292, 49 RBI in the first 84 games) and the way he has defended.

He has earned his manager's respect just as much with his desire to play. Just as Derek Jeter has done for all these years.


Cabrera is one of 13 major-league players who had played in every game through Tuesday and one of just two shortstops (Alcides Escobar of the Royals is the other).

The other 11:

Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Austin Jackson, Tigers
Prince Fielder, Brewers
Dan Uggla, Braves
Chris Young, Diamondbacks
Matt Kemp, Dodgers
Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Omar Infante, Marlins
Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
*Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

*Gonzalez was not in the Red Sox lineup Wednesday

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