HOUSTON -- Known for being Mr. Cool under pressure, Derek Jeter was as nervous as a rookie on his final Opening Day.
"To be honest with you, I was probably more nervous this year because I hadn’t played [a regular-season game] in a while,” said Jeter, who missed most of 2013 with a variety of injuries.
Jeter said that he had anxiety in each and every one of his 16 Opening Days.
“You have butterflies," Jeter said.
They scattered quickly on the second pitch Jeter saw in 2014, an 88 mph Scott Feldman fastball that nailed Jeter square in the wrist.
Jeter played in just 17 games in 2013, so Joe Girardi immediately thought, "Again?" Jeter felt like it snapped him out of his first-game jitters.
"It woke me up,” Jeter said. “It felt like I hadn’t been out there in a while. Obviously, spring training, it just felt like it’s been awhile.”
Jeter, 39, grew a little more comfortable at the plate. After going hitless in his initial two at-bats, including a strikeout, he got on the board with a vintage single to right in the eighth for the 3,317th hit of his career, moving him just two shy of Paul Molitor for ninth all-time.
Jeter came around to score a run, but the Yankees lost 6-2. Jeter and Girardi both said the shortstop's forearm is fine.
In the fifth, even with the Yankees down, Jeter had a huge smile on his face after a Jason Castro soft liner bled over CC Sabathia's head. It hit the grass with some strange spin, eliminating any chance for the charging Jeter to make a play. Jeter picked up the ball and laughed. It was that kind of night.
“I could’ve broken my ankle again, trying to catch it,” Jeter said. “It kept snaking, going left to right. They came out swinging. You have to give them credit. It didn’t seem like they were nervous or anything or they had any butterflies. With the exception of the first inning, CC settled down.”
Prior to Tuesday's game, Jeter reportedly had lunch with Clemens, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and former first lady Barbara Bush at Clemens' son's restaurant, Katch 22.