First Pitch: Managing Jeter's injury

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
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Derek Jeter Debby Wong-US PRESSWIREDon't expect Derek Jeter to reveal how much -- or little -- his ankle is hurting.
Trying to manage Derek Jeter when he's injured may be one of the toughest jobs in pro sports.

First off, the Yankee shortstop wants to be in the lineup all the time, so you have to convince him it's in his best interests to take a day off.

Secondly, he rarely reveals much about the nature of his injury. So you have to guess the extent of his discomfort.

These are the challenges that Joe Girardi faces with Jeter as the regular season winds down.

As you know, the Captain is playing with a bone contusion in his left ankle.

He remains hot at the plate (he's hit in a season-high 15 straight games) but is limited in the field. (He served as the Yankees' DH on Friday night after playing the past two games at shortstop.)

Jeter said before Friday's game that his ankle was feeling better, but Girardi decided to DH him as a precautionary measure.

"We'll have to manage it," Girardi said. "I'm going to pick my days and just kind of go day by day."

Girardi has played with and managed Jeter. So he knows all about the Captain's disdain for talking about injuries.

So when Jeter talks to Girardi about an injury, the manager relies both on the look on Jeter's face and the the words coming out of his mouth before making a lineup decision.

"He said he feels better, but it's not 100 percent. I know that, and he knows that. He'll never admit that," the manager said.

So Girardi will have to go with his gut to determine when to play Jeter in the field, when to DH him and when to -- gulp -- give him a day off.

"You could say, well, why don't you give him a week off? I'm not so sure it would be 100 percent if you gave him a week off," Girardi said.

And he's right.

The trouble with Jeter's injury is it's likely to linger for the rest of the season.

So Girardi's goal, of course, is to have Jeter as close to 100 percent as possible by the postseason, assuming the Yankees make it.

Which brings us to our question: If you were Girardi, how would you manage Jeter the rest of the way?

Up Now: Andrew Marchand writes a column on CC Sabathia's outing Friday night against the Athletics. We also have a story on Jeter reaffirming he wants to stay with the Yanks.

On Deck: Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.85 ERA) faces lefty Travis Blackley (5-3, 3.36 ERA) in the second game of this three-game set on Saturday. In the finale on Sunday, it's Hiroki Kuroda (14-10, 3.26) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (6-1, 2.45).

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.288 14 64 64
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 20
RBIJ. Ellsbury 64
RB. Gardner 81
OPSB. Gardner .787
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAH. Kuroda 3.88
SOM. Tanaka 135