If you'd like to throw up after reading about Derek Jeter's 1-for-4 season debut, in which he never quite got the ball out of the infield, this is the column for you:
Three months into the regular season, it finally felt as if there was a real Yankee game at Yankee Stadium.
...too excited to sleep any longer, like a rookie before his major league debut.
Jeter's first trip to the plate was like a coronation...and his first trip around the bases was like a victory lap.
And although Jeter's contribution was modest...there was something different about the way his teammates went about their business on this day.
If you'd like to read a New York-area column asking why the Yankees rushed Derek Jeter back to the majors—despite being 39 years old and coming off major injury, despite not having come close to completing the rehab program the team had announced for him—well, you're out of luck, because that column doesn't exist.
Jeter tweaked his quad muscle trying to run out a groundout in the fifth inning, his right quad, opposite the twice-broken ankle, just where you'd expect from a guy whose mechanics are compensating for an injury that kept him out of action for nine months. He grimaced as he swung in his next at-bat, clearly in pain. He was removed from the game and sent for an MRI exam, the results of which will come back today.
And what rehab did Jeter get before being thrust into a major-league game (actual baseball rehab, not swinging in the batting cages, not playing a "simulated game" on an empty field)? Four games. Four partial games. Derek Jeter played 22 innings in the minors, receiving just 13 plate appearances before being recalled to New York.
This went out before yesterday's game:
Jeter said afterward he thought he was ready, and the Yankees will tell you their doctors said so too. But all the same, the Yankees admitted they were bringing Jeter back faster than originally planned because of Wednesday injuries to Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner. The team's biggest star, who they'll need down the stretch of what is shaping up to be a desperate playoff race, was rushed back into action to fill a roster hole.
"He hadn't completed the whole profile we had set up for him in his rehab, but the roster changes that occurred in the game last night made us do some adjustments along the way,'' Cashman said. "He'll have to finish off his rehab in the big leagues.''
The Yankees cleared Jeter to begin his rehab assignment last weekend, with an eye on a return after the All-Star break. Team brass said they wanted to see him play back-to-back games at shortstop to make sure he was ready; that never happened. He DHed, or was given an off-day, in between starts at short. In three of his games, he was taken out after five innings; in his final appearance, he made it all the way to the seventh. A guy who hasn't played a complete game at any level since October was expected to do it in the Bronx yesterday. Now he needs an MRI.
Even more inexplicable is the fact that the all-star break is coming up. The Yankees could have survived four games against mediocre AL Central teams and left Jeter in Scranton for an entire week to rehab, rest, and maybe actually play a full nine innings at game speed.
For his part, Alex Rodriguez said he'll use the maximum 20 days for his own rehab. "This is a process," Rodriguez said. "You got to be realistic.”